Belgian climber and musician Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll has made the second ascent of the Fitzroy or 'Fitz' Traverse in Patagonia, Argentina, first climbed by Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell in 2014. Sean completed the line solo and in reverse. It consists of 5km of granite spires (5.11d C1 65 degrees, 5000m).
Sean has been living and climbing in Patagonia since February 2020. He turned 40 on 7 February and alluded to his celebrations in a cryptic Facebook post: 'To celebrate my birthday I had myself the SEVEN cakes, some with icing, and a couple of extra side dishes!!!!' A post from his sponsor, Patagonia, reports that Sean was 'alone, with only a rope, a penny whistle and some birthday cake.' Rarely found up a wall without an instrument, Sean wrote in his trip report: "Really good whistle acoustics on those peaks."
In 2014, Alex Honnold told UKC about his 5-day ascent of the conventional traverse with Tommy, for which they were awarded a Piolet d'Or in 2015: 'Just the thousands of feet of rappelling were no joke. Pulling and flaking ropes hundreds of times gets pretty tiring. And then carrying a backpack for days, and of course the actual climbing. Basically it just all made us tired. The thing is, when most people go climbing for 8 hours they are actually belaying for 4 of the hours. But since we simuled everything we were literally climbing the full 8 hours. Except we were climbing more like 15 hours a day or something. It was the most tired I've ever been.'
On Instagram, US alpinist and Patagonia aficionado Colin Haley - who made the first ascent of both the conventional and reverse Torre traverse - gave high praise to Sean:
Sean is a member of the 'Wild Bunch', a group of climbing musicians who sailed and climbed around the world making first ascents. He won a Piolet d'Or in 2010 for a Greenland big wall new-routing expedition alongside Nicolas Favresse, Oliver Favresse, Ben Ditto and Captain Bob Shepton.
More information to follow...