British climbers James McHaffie (Caff) and Tim Neill returned last month from a trip to Patagonia, where they hoped to make a free ascent of Cerro Torre via the Compressor Route that David Lama freed in 2012 (UKC News Report). Due to poor weather in Patagonia this season, Cerro Torre was unclimbable so the pair switched to other objectives and made a repeat of the Super Domo on Domo Blanco.
The first ascent of Super Domo was climbed by American alpinists Mikey Schaefer and Joe and Neil Kauffman on the 2nd January 2014, and graded WI5, M6, you can read more on the Kauffman's blog. Caff and Tim climbed the Super Domo in their last weather window before they were due to return back to the UK, with a cold forecast this ice route was the best bet as it was too cold to try and attempt any rock objectives.
The pair headed in at 2am behind a team consisting of locals Rolando Garribotti and Colin Haley, and ahead of two teams, including Brits Ben Silvestre and Pete Graham. Caff commented on the beginning of the day on his blog:
"The first part of the climb had some great easier ice pitches, the middle had a techy mixed pitch which Tim dealt with smoothly and the final 3 ice pitches looked superb."
Tim commented on the quality of the climbing on his blog, saying:
"The end of this bit involved a precarious traverse onto a slopey dyke, then bomber ice under a whopper chockstone to a col. The view of the last tier was incredible. Steep cascade ice in a huge chimney. We waited for the team ahead (didn’t have to wait too long!) to top out then got stuck into some of the best ice I’ve ever done. This was good as it was fairly steep and sustained."
Caff commented on the upper ice pitches saying:
"As Tim climbed the 1st of the top ice pitches I watched Rolando Garibotti climbing the final, crux and intimidating top pitch managing not to send down any ice onto us by hooking it. As I seconded this last ice pitch I noticed a good 6 inches of slack between me and Tim and I shouted to let him know..."
Despite not getting to free climb Cerro Torre via the Compressor Route, both climbers are still really happy they headed out, with Tim Neill commenting:
"I'd like to point out that although we didn't get to climb on any big objectives it was an awesome trip as any climbing here is lucky and we were luckier than most. People that've enjoyed the good spells in the last few seasons have had exceptional good luck! I'm sure they know that!!!
Last time I was there with my good pal Matt Stygal in Jan 2009, we never got more than 2 consecutive days good weather in a month but still managed 5 summits including Fitzroy and Poincenot, but we were climbing alpine objectives that time rather than hoping for free rockclimbing style, this is definitely the more productive format!"
Tim is an experienced IFMGA Guide, for more information on Tim's guiding services head to TimNeillGuiding.com