/ NEWS: Skipping Bolts on Maestri's “Compressor Route”

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Michael Ryan - on 21 Feb 2007
Cesare Maestri's 1970 “Compressor Route” on Cerro Torre in Patagonia relies on hundreds of feet of artificial bolt ladders.

Two American climbers attempt to elimate them.

More in the news:... http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/


whispering nic - on 21 Feb 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Placing 400 bolts on this route using a compressor was a phenomenal acheivement.
GraemeA at home on 22 Feb 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: No they haven't. They have tried to climb an alternative route, with some shared pitches.

BTW respect to them for doing anything down in Patagonia but some realism in reporting would be good :-)
Michael Ryan - on 22 Feb 2007
In reply to GraemeA at home:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) No they haven't.

They haven't what?

> They have tried to climb an alternative route, with some shared pitches.

Have you read the full report?

http://climbing.com/news/hotflashes/boltlesscompressor/

> BTW respect to them for doing anything down in Patagonia but some realism in reporting would be good :-)

I have full faith and respect in Dougald MacDonald's reporting.

Mick

GraemeA at home on 22 Feb 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Yep I read it.

"They avoided Maestri’s 300-foot bolt traverse with a pitch of A2 and two pitches of 5.10+ R face climbing, a variation pioneered earlier by Ermanno Salvaterra. They also bypassed the 230-foot bolt ladder that gains the headwall via an ice chimney, likely a previously unclimbed line. Other bolts were skipped via minor variations or by using removable gear instead of bolts"

The key phrases are 'avoided', 'variation', 'bypassed' etc.

What they did was excellent and what Maestri did wasn't. No question.

But they were attempting a new route (or variation) on the SE Ridge of Cerro Terro. Not a clean ascent of the Compressor Route. 500+ft of variation is not the same route now is it.

Graeme

Michael Ryan - on 26 Feb 2007
In reply to GraemeA at home:

Write up at Alpinist.com

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP18/newswire-cerro-torre-compressor-wharton-smith

"Wharton also noted that the excessive bolting—there are about 450 bolts on Maestri's line—could, relatively safely, be reduced to fewer than twenty. "I'm glad we climbed so much of the route without bolts," Wharton said. "I'm also excited to see that the 120 meter headwall (in better conditions) will go with perhaps only 30 meters of aid—20 of which are the legitimate aid climbing of the Bridwell pitch. And I thought we did a great job struggling onto the top in horrendous weather.

I'm disappointed, however, that in the end we took the easy way out, using the bolts to gain the top in what would otherwise have been unclimbable conditions. Human laziness, and coveting the easy way to the top is a sad piece of the Compressor Route story, and although Zach and I nearly avoided this path, in the end we fell just short. So for me the southeast ridge still needs some attention, and our ascent of the peak, despite many hearty congrats, will feel a bit bittersweet."
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Seems there is a little controvery brewing over this ascent.

Including claims that Zack Smith and Josh Wharton used more bolts than previously thought and claims that they didn't summit.

But it get's even worse if there is truth in this report:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=333051
Dave C on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: One anonymous poster making unsubstantiated claims on one internet forum does not equal a controversy.
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Dave C:
> (In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com) One anonymous poster making unsubstantiated claims on one internet forum does not equal a controversy.

Indeed. Werner Braun does also make noises. We shall see how this develops.

Whether it's by the internet, telephone or face to face more research needs to be done here.

I'm on the case and will report back.

Mick

Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

"Just got off the phone with Donini who was in the middle of the frey.

No bolts were chopped.

Josh and Zack did not free the route they were trying to do.

The OP's post doesn't even touch on how juicy the scene actually was.

Neil's statement above speaks eloquently to the matter. The compressor route was installed by a failed, lying climber, so the question for the climbing community really is, "Is it better to leave the route standing as a monument poor alpine form or remove it to reveal the original beauty of one of the best and least attainable alpine summits on the planet?"

As Donini says, "The Compressor Route is the world's hardest Via Ferrata."

I love that guy.

Does Cerro Torre deserve to have a trade route on it that was put up in the poorest form imagineable? Should its historic status make it permanent? If you successfully climb the Compressor Route, have you really climbed Cerro Torre?

Mal"
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

and from the original South American climber on

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=333051&tn=0&mr=0

"you ask for facts, here is what i know for FACT

-they tried to remove the bolts, but it was too hard to do with the tools they had at the moment.

-they did not tell any of the climbers below them or in camp they were out to chop the route.

-steve took poles from their tent, put inside tent, and covered it nicely with some rokks.

-steve yelled at josh.

-bean assulted steve snieder from yosemite.

-they went back up and "summited" below the top, but chopped nothing i know of.

-they did not summit the mushroom. this came from three basque climbers behind them, and from steve s and dave t.

-they used all of the bolted belays and rappels on route, not just headwall of ascent.

-local climbers voted to keep route, and for local climbers to remain in lead for future decisons.argentines, not others, no matter how hard they climb.

-alpinist article is misleading and weak as sh#t."
Luca Signorelli - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

>The compressor route was installed by a failed, lying climber

Guys, I would be really, but REALLY careful before to call Cesare Maestri a "failed, lying climbed". It was never ever the former, and there's no hard evidence of the latter (just serious suspicions). His motives for putting the Compressor Route are very debatable (probably just out of monumental spite against the Torre), but this doesn't make him any different from a lot of continental climbers of his age, whose main difference from Cesare were:

a) better lawyers
b) better manners in handling media connections
c) less controversial opinions on politics and religion

(anyone here from Italy or acquainted with Italy's climbing history knows well what I'm talking about)

As for the Compressor Route, well, I've never been even close to climb it, but having spoken with few people that did early repeat of it (including Bridwell), they didn't exactly define it "a via ferrata". But again, as I know nothing about Cerro Torre, I've no real opinion on this.
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:


> Does Cerro Torre deserve to have a trade route on it that was put up in the poorest form imagineable? Should its historic status make it permanent? If you successfully climb the Compressor Route, have you really climbed Cerro Torre?
>
> Mal"

This is quoted from http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=333051

Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Account of climbing the Compressor Route here:

http://www.pyb.co.uk/information/features/compressed.php

Compressed! By Steve Long

In February 2005, a trio of climbers from Plas y Brenin set off to attempt the first all-British ascent of one of the world’s most famous mountains, Cerro Torre. This sheer monolith is notoriously protected by some of the worst weather in the world as well as huge ice mushrooms that festoon its summit and change shape after every storm. The team comprised Plas y Brenin’s Chief executive, Iain Peter, and two Senior Instructors: Neil Johnson and Steve Long ably assisted on the approach by Sally Peter, the boss’s wife!

Cerro Torre has no easy lines and despite it’s relatively low altitude (3,102 metres) and the attention of the world’s best mountaineers, the mountain repulsed all attempts until 1959 when the Italian “Dolomite Spider” Cesare Masestri was found at the base of the wall claiming the successful ascent of the north face, but with the tragic aftermath of an avalanche that killed his partner Toni Eggar. No evidence has ever been found to confirm his ascent and controversy has raged ever since.

Maestri did little to dispel this when he climbed the south-east pillar in 1971. Nobody can doubt this ascent because his large team hand winched a 150lb gas-powered compressor to the top of the headwall in order to drill some 350 bolt placements. However, Maestri did not climb the snow mushrooms and some historians therefore even credit the first ascent to the American Jim Bridwell! Maestri left the compressor bolted to the penultimate belay on the headwall, surely the strangest memento in the mountaineering world
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

And the latest from Supertaco dot commie:

DaveT.

Big Wall climber
From: southeast face portaledge

yes, a lot of this went down. how do i know this? i was climbing with steve the whole time, and was caught in the middle of all of this, as everyone involved in this mess are friends of mine. let me first state that yes, steve was hurt a bit in this, but had no real damage done, as we were back climbing on the torre a few days later. and here goes my interpretation of what happened, but littlecottonwood posted pretty much everything.

josh and zack showed up to erase the compressor route"s lead bolts, if they could skip most, if not all of them, on their way to the summit. link natural features of the compressor route, re-climb some other failed attempted variations, and establish some new variations as well. and then pull them out on the way down. a very big job it was going to be, they new it. controversial? they knew that it would be. did they tell steve and i? no. should they have? i am staying out of the comments!. but let me state something about josh and zack right now. i consider both of them friends of mine, and would climb with either one of them if it ever popped up. they are good guys, very capable of climbing at difficult grades, and there is no tensions between them and i.

yes, steve got real pissed off at the two of them, and took down the poles from their tent(they were borrowing it from bean), without damaging it in any way. that afternoon, steve found josh and yelled at him. the next day bean and steve had their encounter. three days later, we were all back at the torre.

josh and zack climbed thier proposed line as best they could, using the headwall bolts and all belays. super proud and visionary, i was one of the first to congradulate them as they rapped past us up on the stone. and no, they did not make the summit. it was too cold and windy, is what they told me.

does the last mushroom count? no comment, form your own opinions. was the article misleading? i am not sure, i am going to read it next. but i can see both sides of the argument, pro and con. niether is cut and dry, but hey, i dont really care. it is not my problem. but yes, the argentines want the route to stay, and in the end they have the final word. i can see where this guy little cottonwood is coming from, although i dont know him. he, as well as other local climbers, are pissed that some gringos came here "cowboy style"(quote from an argentine to me) to do what they wanted to on something that wasnt theirs. i told steve about this link, we might hear from him soon.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=333051&tn=0&mr=0
Michael Ryan - on 03 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

This just in from Steve Schneider, concerning Zack Smith and Josh Wharton's recent attempt to climb the Compressor Route of Cerro Torre in Patagonia without using the protection bolts that were power-drilled by Cesare Maestri during his 1970 attempt on the granite needle.

"just the facts, maam
well, didn´t really mean to cause an international incident. i mean, most people know me as a fun loving guy that loves to poke fun at himself and other blondes. but, here goes..

when i got to chalten i heard rumours that my friends josh and zack wanted to chop the compressor route, but seeing as how they did not say anything about it to me, i left it alone. and then i heard they were actually up there with a crowbasr experimenting with bolt removal. this, while ten international expeditions were lined up to do the route. and i just snapped and threw the wobbler of the milliniem. seems they were not really caring about me, their friend climbing the route, or all the rest of us that were there. so, what i did was ...........

walk down to bridwell and carefully remove their poles from their basecamp tent(actually bean bower´s tent), what i thought was a harmless prank, but it was a loser move, and disrespectful of zack and josh. then i went to town and verbally berated josh in front of a few people, swearing at him, and disavowing our friendship, and oh yeah, threatening him physically. that was pretty blonde of me, josh is a big guy. to his credit he sat and took it like a man, and later, when i came to my senses, told him how rad he was for maintaining his cool. next morning zack and josh took my partner, dave turner, and i out for coffee. pretty nice gesture. while i was a bit more civil, i hadn´t slept at all the last two nights and i was pretty worked up. told them to get out of town, and if they did not go get their rack soon, i would go hide it from them thinking that would save the compressor route for a year anyway. that was like loser move number three. i mean, zack, bless his blonde heart told me how when he was growing up and reading the mags that i was one of his heroes. anyway, after agreeing to disagree, they went and told their friend bean bowers and he came and found me. pulled up on his bike, i said hi bean and put out my hand. he threw the bike down and then threw me down. that guy is as quick as lightning. i mean it was over before the bell stopped ringing.

anyway, i came down pretty hard on my elbow, and thought it was broke. i was scared, crying, and pleading with him not to hurt me anymore. be curious to see the video on that one. as the ambulance took me to the hospital, i began to realize what a i had been. indeed, i am embarassed and ashamed with my actions and they way i handled it. should of just talked out our differences over a berr or three. anyway, xrays proved negative, but it was bruised and hurting, still hurts a bit, but i would be able to climb again.
so, in the aftermath, there was a huge climbers meeting that night with a discussion of whether to chop or not to chop the route. then there was a vote, and it was about ten to one in favor of leaving the route as is. so ,while i´m not pleased at how i handled it, i´m at least glad i said something because nobody else was willing to talk to zack and josh about the matter cause they are such badass climbers.


i´ve personally apologized to zack, josh, and bean (bean by email) for being such a jerk. i think zack and i are ok, he´s a pretty forgiving guy, and even let me roll a drum cigarette form his stash later on the mountain. talk about a nice peacepipe. josh and i are another matter, and i can see it in his eyes that he is less than estatic with me...and that really hurts, hope i have not blown it with him.

and about bean, someone had to knock me off the high horse i was riding, although i think he could have been a bit gentler. i´ve told him i´m sorry that my actions compelled him to do what he did. i harbor no hard feelings against this man, and ask that everybody else do the same. to those of you who were willing to toe it up with bean on my behalf, thank you, but let´s just kind of see if we can all forgive and forget. sometimes patagonia does things to people that you would not normally see at home.

and as for the compressor route...well, it ain´t no freaking via ferrata, and in fact is still an extreme route requiring skill, luck, and courage to send. this was my third expedition to climb the bitch, with a new hi9ghpoint of pitch 8, only 20 more to go...whooopie. its hard, believe me.

to bolt or not to be. i feel that the route should remain as is. you have got to respect the tradition that this route represents, that it was put up a long time ago by a world class mountaineer, and that people are lined up every year to either strut their stuff or get stuffed while strutting on this classic climb. removing the bolts would only serve to satisfy the egos of a few misguided elitist. sure, i´ve heard the arguments. the route is a desecration to the mountain, there are just a ridiculous amount of bolts, let´s make people climb the mountain on its own terms and blah, blah, blah. i say let democracy rule, i mean, ten to one in favor keeping the route the same in a vote by 6o patagonian climbers, that´s something.
another note, some people feel that this is a matter for the argentines to decide, not the american cowboys. i disagree.

tom frost once told me "nobody owns the rock steve". i think everybody has a say in the matter, especially those of us wanting to repeat the route, and the many that want to come in the future.

sincerely, Steve "shipoopoi" Schneider

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=333051&tn=0&mr=0
Dave Garnett - on 04 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

Outstanding!
Adam Long - on 04 Mar 2007
In reply to :

Genius! Swift justice from the Bean-wad!

I say get it chopped. Seems 9 out of 10 climbers just want to get to the top, I bet someone does the job properly next year. No doubt anchors and rap stations will remain however, the american idea of a 'clean' route...
Michael Ryan - on 04 Mar 2007
In reply to Adam L:
> (In reply to )
>

> I say get it chopped. Seems 9 out of 10 climbers just want to get to the top, I bet someone does the job properly next year. No doubt anchors and rap stations will remain however, the american idea of a 'clean' route...

Apparantly the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares chaired a debate about this proposed eradication of the bolts on the Compressor Route. As reported it was............

"a large meeting of about 80 climbers gathered after a film to discuss the bolt chopping matter. All of the Argentine climbers (the locals) and 90% of all who attended voted that the route should stay, or at least be delt with by local climbers when the time was right. but not now.....

It seems they concurred that history may be bollocks but shouldn't be eradicated.

Mick

Mick Ward - on 04 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

I wonder what Toni Egger would have wanted...

Mick
ads.ukclimbing.com
tobyfk - on 04 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com:

I thought the most interesting comment on the thread was the one about stripping fixed ropes off Everest. Though I can see why some people may have strong opinions about the bolt ladders on Cerro Torre, there seems to be a much more urgent need to restore some dignity to a mountain like Everest. That said, in practise, if it was ever done, they'd presumably be replaced within days.
Adam Long - on 05 Mar 2007
In reply to tobyfk:

I think Everest is always going to have to be something of a sacrificial lamb to commercial mountaineering. Cerro Torre however, as 'the symobol of super-alpinism', deserves a little more.
I'm surprised more hasn't been mentioned of the 67-8 Boysen-Burke-Crew-Haston attempt, which two years before Maestri reached the ice towers below the headwall with only minimal use of bolts. Slightly lower than the point at which Josh and Zack resorted to the bolts but including, I'm fairly sure , Maestri's 80 metre/ 200 bolt traverse.
Its also worth noting Maestri climbed siege style during the winter - the more stable weather allowing longer periods of weather but the increased ice cover making free climbing less likely and bolt ladders more so. Even at the time, in good summer conditions its likely many could have been bypassed.
aln - on 06 Mar 2007
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKClimbing.com: Were the handbags pink? What a bunch of fannies. Climb the route without using ANY of the bolts. Then argue about it.

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