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Thomas Huber on his second ascent (fourth overall) of Punta Herron. Huber made the ascents with various partners as he attempted to link up Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron and Torre Egger. Josh Wharton snapped the shot on the day when good weather turned Torre Egger into a bit of a junkshow: the warm temperatures melted snow and ice, drenching the cracks, and contributed to Bean Bowers? fall from the summit mushroom. [Photo] Josh Wharton

My main goal this year was to climb Torre Egger. Stefan Siegrist and I made our first attempt in the first days of February, after a month of bad weather. Full of energy, we started at night for the col between Standhardt and Bifida, traversed the great ramp on the east face of Standhardt, and with two raps reached the icy gully of Tobaggon (Garibotti-Karo, 1999). At sunrise we stood on the Col di Sueno between Standhardt and Punta Herron. Hours later we arrived at the summit of Punta Herron, but wind and bad conditions forced us to descend, and the big dream fell apart.

Stefan’s trip was over, but I still had four more weeks. I eventually found two partners: Andi Schnarf from Switzerland, and “Rock,” a twenty-two-year-old Slovenian climber.

Our next attempt ended twenty meters below the summit of Egger! The incredibly warm conditions made it impossible to climb the final ice mushroom. No Egger, I thought–not this year.

A week later, another weather window materialized, but I had no real motivation to try Egger again. Instead, Andi and I climbed Cerro Standhardt via Festerville (ED-: VI 5.11 WI5, 550m, Martin-O’Neill, 2000). We started at 2 a.m. and reached the summit at 3 p.m. The conditions were much better than they had been the week before–a little colder, the ice a little better.

“Egger looks great from here,” I said to Andi. “What do you think?”
I saw a glow in his eye… and three hours later we were on Col di Sueno, col of dreams. But my thoughts where already one summit ahead, on the Egger.

We reached the summit of Punta Herron at sunset for its fifth ascent. (Stefan and I had also made the third, and Andi and I the fourth, ascents.) At the col between Herron and Egger, the cold kept us from sleeping. We started climbing at 4 a.m. in cold and wind, via a hard, badly protected 5.10 slab. The climbing got easier, and the ice on the mushroom was better than it had been a week ago. At 7:30 a.m. we were on the top of Egger, where we could still see the footsteps of Dean Potter and Steph Davis, who had reached the summit the day before.

Descending the Titanic was not great fun, but once back in Norwegos camp, Dean, Steph, Andi and I clasped hands in celebration. For Andi and me it had been a thirty-eight-hour roundtrip over three summits. Andi had climbed Cerro Torre via the Compressor Route earlier in the season, making him the first climber to climb all four Torre summits.

I’d like to extend special thanks to Karl Gabl from Innsbruck who gave us perfect weather forecasts and was the real hero in this Patagonian climbing season!

— Thomas Huber, Berchtesgaden, Germany