|Excellent conditions in the Patagonia have resulted in an unusually high number of ascents this season, in particular in the Fitz Roy massif. |
In mid January a small Slovenian expedition comprised of Silvo Karo, Andrej Grmovsek, Tanja Grmovsek and Monika Kambic Mali made a series of fast ascents. Making the most of the precise Austrian weather forecast sent to them by Thomas Huber they climbed, amongst others, a new "sitting start" to Cerro Torre and produced the first all-female ascent of the mountain.
On 19 January Karo and Grmovsek warmed up by climbing "Claro de Luna" (6c, 800m) on Ag. Saint Exupery (2558m) in a 9 hour round trip, prior to climbing the "Anglo-American route" (6b, 600m) on the W Face of Ag. Rafael Juarez (2482m) in worsening conditions.
The weather soon improved and the duo then created their so-called "Slovenian start for Cerro Torre", a mammoth 28 hour, non-stop 1700 altitude difference, 3km rock and ice trip from the base of Cerro Torre to the summit. The "sitting start to one of the longest and most famous rock faces of the world" as they describe it climbs "Rubio y azul" (6c, 350m) up Torre de la Media Luna and continues along virgin 6c+ terrain and a series of abseils to Torre Pereyra to reach the Col of Hope, from where they continued along to the "Compressor route" 6b, A1+, 65°, 900m) to the summit.
Not content, on 7 February the two set out for to make the first repeat of the "Italian route" (6c, A3, 1300m) on the SE face of Ag. Poincenot (3002m). The original idea was to free climb the line, but beneath the looming 400m headwall they realised that fast and light was not an option. Luckily they stumbled across gear stashed 19 years ago by the first ascentionists and so, climbing with rusty aiders and a bunch of pitons, they continued upwards, bivvying once and reaching the summit at 3.00 pm the next day.
The two women, Tanja Grmovsek and Monika Kambic Mali, found going tough at the start. They climbed Ag. de la S in bad weather, and then got to within eight pitches of the summit of Cerro Torre via the Compressor route prior to retreating due to bad conditions.
Thankfully the forcasted weather window soon appeared and the two set off at 3am on 7 February, reaching their highpoint the next day. Things looked promising but then Monika was struck by falling ice and broke three ribs. Unsure as whether to retreat or continue, they opted for the latter, inventing as they ascended to reach the top at 9 pm on 08/03/2005. After a "hellish" descent they reached the Norwegos safely, happy to be down adn ready to celebrate their first all-female ascent!
Read the full expedition reports:
Silvo Karo has 10 Patagonian expeditions to his name, while in 2003 Kambic Mali carried out the first all-female ascent of Fitz Roy via the Franco-Argentine Route, together with compatriot Tina Di Batista. This was Andrej Grmovsek and Tanja Grmovsek's first experience in Patagonia.