After successfully climbing Cerro Torre, my next goal was to climb the route opened by the legendary Italian climbers Casimiro Ferrari and Vittorio Meles in 1976, called Pilar Este on the Eastern Face of Fitz Roy in Patagonia, on the border of Argentina and Chile.
The route is 1,400 metres of extremely difficult and technical vertical granite. The exposure, the difficulty of the route and the extreme climate of Patagonia have repelled many attempts to repeat this route over the last 40 years. But my friend Matteo and I wanted to give it a try.
So on the 16th of January we loaded our backpacks with food and gear and started the journey towards Paso Superior. The weather forecast looked grim for Monday night but it seemed like it would be fine for the rest of the week. After a six hour climb we settled in for the night, looking up at this beautiful mountain and our goal.
At 4am we started to climb. Extremely difficult pitches and getting our haul bags up the wall slowed us down, but we had to climb at least 15 rope lengths a day if we wanted to make it to the top. At the end of the first day we got to a very small ledge where we made camp for the night. But then it started to snow. Luckily my Páramo PFC-free clothing kept me dry all night. The problem was my sleeping bag, which got soaking wet. We still had three days to go and hopefully we’d be able to dry it somehow.
The second day met with very difficult conditions on our climb; the sun was melting the ice on the wall which meant I was continually getting soaked with water, but I was very happy that my clothing dried very fast. The right gear is fundamental on such big climbs.
After climbing another 15 hard rope lengths, we found a very uncomfortable bivy site. We spent the night eating some energy bars and rehydrating. The next day would hopefully be the last. We needed to climb another 500 metres to get to the top.
There was a lot of snow and ice in the cracks which slowed us down and we were tired from the days before. Again, we were getting wet from the melting ice and once the wind started, the water would freeze over our clothes. I was extremely satisfied with my PFC-free clothing; it was keeping me warm and dry, even in these extreme conditions.
After another 12 hours of climbing, we reached the Summit of Mount Fitz Roy, having climbed one of the longest and hardest routes in Patagonia. It was 6.30pm and we brewed some tea while taking some pictures from the top. We decided to sleep on the summit because the descent would take a whole day and be long and difficult.
After a very cold night, we enjoyed the sunrise over Cerro Torre and Lake Viedma and began the difficult descent back to Paso Superior and El Chalten. 12 hours after leaving the summit, we safely reached El Chalten happy and fulfilled by this incredible adventure in Patagonia.
Thank you, Greenpeace, for providing the Páramo equipment necessary for this expedition. I have to say again that the PFC-free clothing performed better than I could have imagined. PFCs shouldn’t have a future in the outdoor world; they are completely unnecessary.
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David Bacci is an Italian professional climber and volunteer for Greenpeace Italy.
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