|Tanja Grmovšek and Monika Kambič-Mali did a first all women ascent on Cerro Torre on 8th of February 2005. They also climbed Ag. de la 'S.|
Our small team from Slovenia, Monika Kambic-Mali and me, Tanja Grmovsek together with Silvo Karo and Andrej Grmovsek settled down in Campo de Agostini on 17th of January. Monika and myself started with our climbing achievements on 19th of January. We went for a long day of climbing. We started at 4am from Agostini, went past Polacos, below Ag. Saint Exupery. We tried to climb the route Kearney-Harrington, but we rappelled down after a few pitches. It was very icy, with a lot of mix climbing and we wouldn’t reach the summit in the same day with our speed.
On 26th of January we went from Polacos in a pretty bad weather. We changed our planes (from Exupery) and we climbed the gully on the right side of Exupery to the col and continued to Ag. de la ‘S (2335m) via variant to North Ridge and Austrian route (6a, 60°, 600m). It was very windy, cold and with some rain and snow. We probably did one of the rare all female ascent on this peak. I was really happy to make it to the top, it was my first Patagonian summit.
After that we moved to Norwegos. On 31st of January we climbed to the Col de Esperanza (4h from Norwegos). We were planning to climb Cerro Torre (3102m) via Compressor route (6a, A1+, 65°, 900m + to the Col; 5, 50°,300m). The conditions to the Col were still OK. In the afternoon we climbed first three pitches above the shoulder and fixed the rope. On 1st of February we started at 4am, jumared the fixed line and continued with climbing. We climbed in boots and crampons most of the time. We reached a good ledge above first bolt traverse in the afternoon. It was too fast to bivi so we continued. The weather turned and the conditions got worse from hour to hour. We kept on going because we thought that we will find a good place for a bivouac somewhere around Ice Towers. At 11 p.m. we reached point just eight pitches below the summit. We were completely wet (there were little streams of water everywhere). The wind get really strong and cold, it was raining and very fogy. We decided to rather return and so we start rappelling with heavy hearts. We were so close! We had a lot of problems with our soaked ropes, which get stuck everywhere. The whole wall was just one big waterfall. We rappelled all night and mostly all next day.
The good weather kept on going. With just one full day of rest we returned to Norwegos. We decided to try again on Cerro Torre. We started on 7th of February at 3am from Norwegos with a different tactics. The lower part to the Col was ten pitches of scary climbing, because big seracs on the left side collapsed completely and it was much harder to climb. It took us seven hours to the Col. We continued in the waiting line, because there were two party of climber in front of us. We climbed to the ledge above first bolt traverse and spend a night there. The next day we climbed on. We passed our very high point from our first attempt. Monika was leading bolt pitches in the headwall when a big piece of ice from the compressor machine hit her shoulder and broke her three ribs! Monika was struggling in pain. We didn’t know what to do. We decided to try for the top anyhow. Monika jumared with one hand on one of our half rope that English climbers fixed for her and I climbed simultaneity with her last pitches on just other half of the rope to snow mushroom. In the middle of Bridwell pitch I could not reach to another rivet and didn’t want to fall on just one 8mm rope, so after a while I grabbed our second hanged rope and went on it for a few meters. Luckily the mushroom was not hard and we stood on the top of Cerro Torre at 9pm on 8th of February 2005! We were the first all women party on the summit of Cerro Torre! Then our hellish descent started. We needed almost one day to rappelled and climbed down. We rest for a few hours on the same ledge as on the way up. I did all the work and luckily Monika was able to rappel by herself. We reached Norwegos, happy to be down.
Monika commented our achievement on Cerro Torre: ”This mountain is not for women. It’s a lot of hard work. I had it enough this time.”” And I added: ”Go women! Try it!”
And than we started to party! After that the weather was still good so I went climbing with two young Slovenian climbers, Aljaz Tratnik and Rok Zalokar (in this January they climbed with another Slovenian Rok Sisernik, Cassaroto route– Pilar Norte, 6b, A2, 1200m on Fitz Roy). We repeated Buscaini (6a, 6c, 850m) on Ag. Saint Exupery (2558m) on 17th of February in not too nice Patagonian weather. But we did it. What an expedition!
Written by Tanja Grmovsek, March 2005
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