Ackermann and Haley complete 34-year-old line in Patagonia

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 31/12/2011
Cerro Standhardt (right) and Torre Egger from the southeast. Andrej Grmovsek

Jorge Ackermann from Argentina, and regular Patagonian activist, American Colin Haley, have finally completed the South Face of Cerro Standhardt (2,730m) to its very top.

The two followed the long snow ramps that rise across the East Face from close to the north col, then climbed a mixed pitch to reach the conspicuous right-facing diedre, more or less in the centre of the South Face.

Haley led up left for four pitches, the first two on aid, the remaining largely free. At first he opted for the right-hand of two obvious cracks, but this fizzled out and he had to make a couple of big pendules to the left.

Ackermann led two ice pitches, the final in an overhanging chimney, where more aid was needed. It proved to be the crux and led to just below an exit right of the large summit cornice.

Haley led a tricky pitch to the top of the South Face, from where the final mushroom proved straightforward - AI3. The pair descended north in deteriorating weather and used the rappel anchors of Exocet, reaching their bivouac after 25 hours.

The route was named El Caracol (the snail) and gave difficulties rated 5.9, A1+ and M4 (in the photo the line follows the prominent snow ramp on the right, then the face on left in semi-profile directly below the summit mushroom).

In February 1977 Brian Hall and John Whittle made what was widely reported as the first ascent of the last major unclimbed peak in the area - Cerro Standhardt.

Following the line of a 1974 American attempt across snow ramps on the East Face, they arrived below the South Face and bivouacked. Next day they climbed 10 pitches up the face, steep ice-encrusted rock with sections of UIAA VI and A2, to reach the top.

However, the huge overhanging summit cornice above was deemed unclimbable and the two descended from a point about 20m below its top.

The ethics of the time made this ascent generally acceptable to the climbing community; Maestri having already claimed the summit of Cerro Torre via his famous Compressor Route, though without the final mushroom, which he deemed not a true part of the mountain.

Ten years later views had changed and Jim Bridwell, with Greg Smith and Jay Smith, climbing his now classic ice route Exocet, reached the top of the mushroom in January 1988 and claimed the first true and complete ascent.

A number of parties have tried to finish a line on the South Face over the years, though none reached as high as Hall and Whittle. Today, Bridwell and the Smiths are credited with Standhardt's first ascent.

Previously this season Haley had soloed Cerro Pollone to a point where he could touch 40cm below the top with his axe, without actually being able to stand on top due to unconsolidated rime.

He also soloed Aguja St Exupéry, Aguja Innominata and Aguja de l'S, which means that he has now made solo ascents of the seven main summits that form the Fitz Roy ridgeline: Guillaumet, Mermoz, Fitz Roy, Poincenot, Innominata, St Exupéry and l'S. Another Seven Summit collection.
 



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