/ NEW ARTICLE: Colin Haley on the Cerro Torre Saga

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UKC Articles - on 07 Feb 2012
A very moody Cerro Torre heralding an even moodier weather system, 3 kbIn this article Colin Haley, one of the world's leading alpinists, gives a run down of his personal experiences on Cerro Torre, and his opinion on the botling and de-bolting of the infamous Compressor Route.

"There were some spots on the Compressor Route where a climber clipped to one bolt with a daisy chain could easily touch more than ten other bolts..."

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4433

mmmhumous on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article.
Lone Rider - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

One of the best articles i have read on any of the climbing websites and forums in years. A well argued and reasoned case.
jacobjlloyd - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: Respect to Colin for being rational, and for standing up in the face of all the s**t throwing with the best-put case I've seen on the issue. Totally agree with him.
Dave 88 - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

A really interesting read. Certainly passed the time waiting for my car to be towed!
MattDTC on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

Thankyou Colin Haley, the world of climbing needs more people like you, people brave enough to stand up and speak with integrity.
fezzi - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:
this is another good article worth reading (although it takes the opposite position)
http://alpinesketches.wordpress.com/
Erstwhile on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

Well done to the lads who cleaned the route - what a miserable job chopping hundreds of bolts!

Great article - I'm amazed than anyone disagrees with the author, but that's folk, I suppose.
john arran - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

Congratulations to Colin Haley for eloquently expressing a very reasonable stand and doing so in an admirably logical and restrained manner. He seems right on every count.

I also tried reading Lovison's article and stopped short at the section where he seems to think the ascents of many of the early ascentionists of this monstrosity are somehow now discredited by the bolt removal. They aren't discredited in the slightest. They remain (doubtlessly impressive in their day) ascents of a bolt ladder up a peak that would always have been (and now is) better off without one.

The other argument which seemed incongruous was the 'arbitrary' choice to leave some bolts in place. Haley addresses this admirably, but surely removal of much of the offending hardware can only be step in the right direction. Whether further steps are taken later remains to be seen, although I would be very surprised indeed if many were genuinely calling for removal of the bare minimum fixed gear needed to abseil.
fezzi - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to fezzi: by the way, if you scroll down there is an English version of Lovison's article.
johncoxmysteriously - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to fezzi:

No it's not. It's depressing ranting, not worth the pixels let alone actually reading.

Curious what a nationalistic issue this is for the Italians. You'd think they'd have better things to be proud of than Maestri.

jcm
John Alcock - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Well done Colin. A really well-reasoned article. Without the bolts I'd probably stand no chance of ever getting up Cerro Torre, but I don't care. They shouldn't have been placed and I'm glad they've gone.
Epsilon - on 07 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

The Italian Outrage Crew should be arriving shortly.

Related, Kelly Cordes has a good piece up on Patagonia's blog The Cleanest Line:

http://www.thecleanestline.com/2012/02/cerro-torre-deviations-from-reason.html
fezzi - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Dear John, I just wanted to suggest an article making (in my opinion) at least one good point, that is, that on the slippery concept of 'fair means'.

I still don't have a clear opinion regarding the stripping of the Compressor route.

I have one regarding Maestri, though: he has been one of the greatest climbers of the 50s (I am especially thinking at his bold solos in the Dolomites) and his undeniable mistakes in the 'affaire-Torre' cannot erase this.

In any case not all Italian alpinists are on Maestri's side with regard to both the 1959 claimed ascent and the 1970 siege. Notable examples of opposers are Bonatti (at least with regard to the siege), Messner, and Salvaterra.

A further interesting (hopefully not just for me) reading on the stripping is this short article by Mario Conti (member of the Ragni di Lecco expedition that did the first ascent of the Torre in 1974): http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=39120

It might be true that most Italian alspinists would have left the bolts there...
F
johncoxmysteriously - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to Epsilon:

With an excellent link to Garibotti's piece about the 1959 controversy.

jcm
johncoxmysteriously - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to fezzi:

>Dear John, I just wanted to suggest an article making (in my opinion) at least one good point, that is, that on the slippery concept of 'fair means'.

Yes, I agree with that - 'fair means' doesn't impress me much.

>I have one regarding Maestri, though: he has been one of the greatest climbers of the 50s (I am especially thinking at his bold solos in the Dolomites) and his undeniable mistakes in the 'affaire-Torre' cannot erase this.

Well, yes and no - in a sense this is true, of course, but in another sense a false claim and false account of a man's death, and a deliberate piece of littering like the Compressor Route, are quite enough to reduce anyone's reputation to a very low level.

Agreed Conti's article is interesting. As I said at ME, it would be interesting to know what Knez and the other Slovenians think.

A propos of leaving routes as the FA lef them, I think perhaps we have a different tradition about this from long ago. Remind me to tell you about the Munich Climb episode of the 1930's some time......

jcm
Epsilon - on 08 Feb 2012
"leaving climbs as the FA left them" is obviously not a universal ethic, and how strictly it's applied varies from location to location. No one in Britain would seriously entertain that concept if the first ascensionist had drilled bolts in a location where they are clearly off-limits (for instance, Moffat chopping Redhead's bolt on The Tormented Ejaculation). With a location like Patagonia or the Himalayas, where the hard climbing and FAs have been put up almost entirely by foreigners, especially in the older days, it's highly dubious that such an ethic need be followed.

It's certainly interesting that one of the few Argentines of that era to actually put up a hard FA in Patagonia, Carlos Comesana, has come out as strongly in favor of the bolt chopping as anyone. In fact, I haven't heard a single notable Argentinian climber (i.e. someone who is actually willing to put both their name and ticklist out there) lead the charge against it. It's all coming from Italians along with a few others here and there (Steve Schneider, for example).
coldwill - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: I think Mario Conti answers the reason why the bolts were not chopped sooner in his article; "But I'm completely against the bolt chopping on the Maestri. A route which dates back to 1970, when El Chalten didn't even exist and Patagonia wasn't as accessible as it is today,".
It would have taken a special trip down there just to chop them, who had the time and money for that?
Hannes on 08 Feb 2012
fezzi - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I will!
F
ads.ukclimbing.com
rocksol - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
I was in Patagonia a few times in the 70,s and nearly managed to climb Cerro Torre [but for a mushroom], by a new route, much of which coincided with Maestri,s claimed route.
At that time I thought the bolt ladder was against the principles of clean climbing and not worthy of an attempt. It had only had one ascent by Jim {Bridwell] & Steve [Brewer]. Therefore somehow it seemed irrelevant, tucked away at the ends of the Earth. How that has changed!
I have since had a very emotionally charged meeting with Cesare Maestri, where he ended up uncontrollably weeping. It,s blighted his whole life and as I,m no longer an angry young man I took no issue with his claims. He told me that he took great comfort from this.
As far as I,m concerned the bolt removal has done a massive service to mountaineering and redressed the balance somewhat more in favor of the Mountain and the skill required to climb it.
Calder - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles:

"...I would personally prefer to stay far away from this controversy."

It doesn't sound like it!
luco on 08 Feb 2012
Great to have a contribution from Phil Burke here!!

here is a letter that has been circulating via email from Doug Tompkins to Carlos Comesaña on the subject. Doug gave the ok to make it public.

For those that dont know him, Doug did the third ascent of Fitz in 1968, with Chouinard, Jones, Dorworth, etc, founded The North Face, founded Esprit, and since selling his shares in Esprit has been a committed conservationist. About 10 years ago with his wife Kris he bought a number of ranches in the coast east of Chalten, about 300k away, and donated them to the Argentine government to turn them into a National Park . The park is called Monte Leon. Phenomenal place, well worth visiting. He has done similar work in Chile, the current project being the massive Parque Patagonia in Chacabuco valley.

Carlos did the second ascent of Fitz Roy in 1965, via the Supercanaleta, with Fonrouge, who was with Crew, Haston, Burke (Mick) and Boysen in the SE ridge.

The goods:

Hi Carlos,

Finally someone chopped those bolts of Maestri off of Cerro Torre. In my way of thinking it is 40 years too late, but better late than never. If there ever was a sacrilege in alpinism this had to take the cake. This bolt ladder had compromised Cerro Torre for all these last four decades, not to mention the slime ball Maestri with his lies, his arrogance and his cowardice. I remember arriving with my wife to his base camp in early 1971 and it was a pig’s stye. We spent two full days picking up the garbage and restoring the area. It was a metaphor for Maestri and all he stood for, the black chapter in Patagonia climbing.

Hats off to Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, they had the courage, the ethics and the climbing style that now has rectified the curse of Maestri and put Cerro Torre back to the dignity it deserves. Let only climbers who have the techniques, the courage and the sense of adventure and human accomplishment that are capable of reaching the summit by the leading standards of contemporary climbing, not reduced to the lowest common denominator by such things as bolt ladders. Today, bolt ladders are obsolete (if ever they were really acceptable), the climbing techniques and standards have blown by all of that, we are in a new era. Those of us having climbed in these past epochs can only salute and admire the work of these young contemporary climbers, and not cry in our cups that the errors of our own era are being even somehow desecrated. That is nothing short of a testimony of the small mindedness of a relatively small group who raise unsophisticated and actually outlandish arguments having nothing to do with real climbing standards. You will not find one top climber in today’s field of world class alpinists who approved of Maestri’s bolt ladder in the first place or who is not happy that it is being chopped out. Fair Means is the password today. Lets not talk of dumbing down climbs or the climbing standards that are always advancing, let’s not have any retreats to the mistakes or lower climbing standards of forty years ago.

Shame on the circle of people who are criticizing these young climbers who just did an heroic feat of alpinism restoring the self respect of the mountain. As a contemporary of Maestri myself, I do not see anything worth preserving of his reputation as a fine alpinist, he left that at the door when he entered the Valley of the Rio de las Vueltas. His ‘legacy’ is that of a liar breaking the tradition of honesty and goodwill that climbing and its spirit of adventure has carried since the sport appeared , the industrialization of the compressor route unheard of in climbing before this or since remains one of the black marks on Alpinism any where in the world until today not to mention the outrage it provoked at the time of putting up the route.

Anyway, I just want to congratulate these excellent young climbers, they will go down in history as the heroes of Cerro Torre for this epoch and they will applaud future climbers who do routes faster and with less equipment and freer yet. For they embody the best spirit of human endeavor. Applause all around ! Let us be sure that we all back up Kennedy and Kruk and not let them get flummoxed for example by strident or hysteric voices swirling there in Chalten or elsewhere. They need our hearty support, they are the heroes.

Best, Doug


luco on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
regarding the Slovene's, Knez has been away from climbing circles for a while. Jeglic is unfortunately gone. This is what Karo wrote in 2007 on this subject:

“That climb was stolen from the future. Without all those bolts the history of that marvelous mountain would have been very different. I am convinced that in alpinism how you have climbed is more important than what you have climbed, and I have no doubt that the best are those that leave the least amount of stuff behind.”
luco on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to Epsilon:
regarding the Argentines, Garibotti has made his views as clear as Comesaña's. True, he is a fake Argentine having been born elsewhere, but culturally and as a climber an Argentine nonetheless. Also Sebastian de la Cruz made his views pretty clear. Other than Fonrouge, Seba was the one true visionary that Argentine "andinismo" had. You can read his letter on the subject here, in spanish:

http://www.lacachania.com.ar/noticia.php?id_nota=201&id_seccion=3

Fonrouge is gone, plane crash a number of years ago.

There are many from the younger generation that support the de-bolting, folks such as Jorge Ackerman, Tomy Aguilo , etc
David Rose - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: I find it tragic and fascinating to read that the whole Cerro Torre saga has blighted Maestri's life. It is right that the bolts have been removed: they were the remaining testament to a terrible and self-damaging obsession. But what a saga. It could be a film or a gothic novel.
pneame on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to davidoldfart:
I remember Maestri talking at Buxton - '76 or '77 ?. The bolt controversy was raging, and no-one believed for a moment that he'd climbed Cerro Torre originally. His talk didn't mention it.

Nevertheless, the audience were generous with their applause and were much impressed with his other accomplishments. He came across as a genuine and modest individual.

What demons prompted him to fabricate stuff and then attack the mountain so viciously will never be clear.

It takes an unusual individual to admit to errors of this magnitude. It's sad that Cerro Torre has been despoiled, great that it's been cleaned up. But much worse things have been done in the name of access and progress.

And having said that, I love the uphill transports in the Alps!
munro - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to davidoldfart:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) It could be ... a gothic novel.

A really bad one.

Definitely agree with the rest though. 'Obsession' certainly seems to be the word.

David Rose - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: It's extraordinary how lies by mountaineers eventually catch up with them. Another example: Heinrich Harrer's long and eventually futile attempt to hide his membership of the Nazi SS. Contrast that with Heckmair's complete honesty about the politics that surrounded the Nordwand's first ascent, as described in his remarkable essay about taking Leni Riefenstahl climbing the Dolomites. Heckmair lies remembered as a great climber and a wonderful man, and Harrer as a slippery crook. We are so often the architects of our own misfortunes.
fezzi - on 08 Feb 2012
In reply to davidoldfart:
Speaking of lies, of Harrer and of Nordwand here is another great contribution published on this website two years ago: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2483
F
Sir Stefan - on 09 Feb 2012
In reply to pneame:

I have mixed feelings about "the uphill transports in the Alps". Admittedly I have used some of them, but the scars they are accompanied by, especially the pistes, annoys me.

Now for Colin's article, I think it sums up my views quite nicely and I'm happy that a man with his merits stood up.
pneame on 09 Feb 2012
In reply to Sir Stefan:
My point exactly - despoilation needs to be taken in context to a certain extent.
A bolt ladder up one of the wildest places on the planet? Insane. Should be got rid of.
Uphill transports in places that have had a strong tourist business for the last ~100 years? Acceptable.
Uphill transports in areas that have no "history"? Probably not acceptable.
monticm - on 13 Feb 2012
In reply to UKC Articles: Definitely a great article. Never been or even seen Cerro Torre (and probably never will) but still disagree with the de-bolting. It's not a matter of erasing history, in fact it's the complete opposite. By removing the bolts, they just made a witness dissapear, but the crime is still there.
In reply to monticm:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) Definitely a great article. Never been or even seen Cerro Torre (and probably never will) but still disagree with the de-bolting. It's not a matter of erasing history, in fact it's the complete opposite. By removing the bolts, they just made a witness dissapear, but the crime is still there.

Agreed.

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