[Photo] Alex Proimos/Wiki Commons
American alpinist Colin Haley made the first solo ascent of Torre Egger (2685m), which many consider to be the hardest peak in the Torre group, on Tuesday, January 19. Haley said that after his first solo ascent of Aguja Standhardt in 2010, “Torre Egger became the focus of my soloing aspirations.”
He had previously made the first solo ascent of Standhardt in November 2010, climbing Exocet (5.9 WI5, 500m) in 12 hours.
Since then, Haley worked toward soloing Egger’s slender needle, spending “time daydreaming about this goal, about what skills I needed to develop, about what strategy to adopt, about what equipment to take, and about whether or not I had the gumption to make it happen,” he wrote on Facebook. He hiked into Torre Valley a couple of times to attempt a solo but conditions weren’t right or he “didn’t have the nerve at that moment.”
On Tuesday, conditions were good. Haley left Noruegos camp below the Torre peaks at 12:45 a.m. and after a three-hour approach started climbing. He chose to connect a series of routes to reach Torre Egger’s summit. Haley was familiar with this line, having climbed it in 2015 with Alex Honnold.
After climbing to Col Standhardt, he traversed left up steep ramps on the East Face of Aguja Standhardt (ca 2700m), and then rappelled from Standhardt’s south shoulder to the upper groove of Tobogan (5.10- A1 M6, 500m), a direct line to Col Dei Sogni between Standhardt and Herron.
[Read the NewsWire “Haley Solos Patagonia’s Cerro Standhardt,” from December 9, 2010–Ed.]
From the col between Standhardt and Punta Herron, Haley climbed Spigolo dei Bimbi (5.10 90 degrees, 350m), a steep route up an exposed slabby prow to reach the snow-crusted summit of Punta Herron (2750m). He rope-soloed four of that route’s pitches. This was the first solo ascent of the semi-detached Herron, a sharp sub-summit of Egger. He then descended 80 meters down Cara Sur to the Col de Lux, a sharp notch between Herron and Torre Egger. Using a self belay, Haley climbed four more pitches of incipient cracks and flakes up the Huber-Schnarf Route (5.10+ 80 degrees, 200 meters) on the slabby North Ridge of Egger to the final mushroom icecap. He reached the summit at about 5:15 p.m. in the afternoon, after 16 and a half hours of continuous climbing.
Haley described the challenges he encountered on the descent as “a bit of an epic” on his Facebook page. He rappelled Egger’s South Face to the Egger-Torre Col. After the next-to-last rappel, his rope got hung up. Haley spent several hours bouncing on the rope, moving it inches at a time until it finally pulled free, although the sheath was damaged from his efforts to free it. He continued down without further incident, rappelling over the American Route, the original line up Torre Egger pioneered by Jim Donini, John Bragg and Jay Wilson in 1976.
The next day Haley wrote on his social media page: “I’m sure that yesterday’s climb is among the very best climbing accomplishments I have made in my life thus far. Very tired.”
Haley and Wyatt Speed Climb Fitz Roy
Before Colin Haley’s solo ascent of Torre Egger, Alpinist had been following his other adventures in Patagonia. During the first week of January, he made an endurance feat with American Andy Wyatt.
On January 6, Haley and Wyatt completed a car-to-car ascent of Monte Fitz Roy (3405m), also called Cerro Chalten, in 21 hours and 8 minutes. This is the fastest round-trip time on Fitz Roy to date. The ascent was Haley’s tenth time up the mountain and Wyatt’s first big route in Patagonia.
The pair climbed the Supercanaleta route (5+ 80 degrees, 1600m, Comesana and Fonrouge, 1965), an obvious line up a gully on the west face to moderate rock and mixed climbing and the summit ridge. This speed ascent was Haley’s third time up the route. He had previously climbed it in 2007 with Quebecois climber Maxime Turgeon. In January 2009 he made the second solo ascent in bad conditions (Dean Potter did Supercanaleta’s first solo in 2002). Haley told Alpinist, “That day left me more physically and psychologically wasted than I’ve ever been before or since.”
[Read the late Dean S. Potter’s account of completing the first solo ascent of Supercanaleta, “The Call of the Wild,” first published in Alpinist 0–Ed.]
Haley said Patagonia climbing guidebook author Rolando Garibotti gave him the idea of climbing Fitz Roy in under 24 hours round-trip from the road a few years ago. Haley said, “I always thought it was a cool idea, but it was never a high priority for me.”
The duo started from the Rio Electrico bridge, about ten miles from El Chalten, at 10:15 p.m. in the evening. After five-and-a-half hours of jogging, they reached the bergschrund below the route at 3:30 a.m. and began climbing, reaching the summit of Fitz Roy at 11:14 a.m. after another seven hours and 34 minutes.
They simul-soloed the lower couloir, and then simul-climbed the fifth-class terrain above. Haley said, “The hardest moves are on one of the upper pitches on the ridge, but like most alpine climbing, the challenge was in the whole journey, not individual pitches.” The pair spent “about six or seven minutes” on the summit, he told Alpinist. “Andy wanted to stay longer, but I was cracking the whip!”
They descended the French Route (6a+ A3 55 degrees, 650m) on the Southeast Face, the line of French climbers Guido Magnone and Lionel Terray’s 1952 first ascent. They finished the speed climb at El Pilar at 7:23 p.m. Haley said he could do the round-trip time a couple of hours faster since they moved slowly on some sections of the climb and descent, and they took a 40-minute break at Laguna de los Tres on the hike out.
“I’m not under any delusion that climbing the Supercanaleta fast is really hardcore alpine climbing,” said Haley. “I think that climbing harder routes is generally cooler than going for speed on moderate routes. However, going for speed on moderate routes is simply really frickin’ fun.”
Colin Haley’s remarkable season has been the culmination of years of effort, refining his solo-climbing systems and studying the region.