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First First Ascent of 2011

Jim Toman on a “stellar knife-edge hand-traverse”. [Photo] Neil Kauffman

On January 1st-2nd, Americans Neil Kauffman and Jim Toman climbed a new route to the unclimbed east summit of Cerro Pollone (2579m), neighbor to Cerro Fitz Roy, in Argentine Patagonia. The two established Re Puesto! (V 600m 5.10 A1 65 degrees) over 13 pitches of rock, snow, and ice on Pollone’s east face.

The higher, west summit of Cerro Pollone was first climbed in 1949 by an Argentine team after they made two unsuccessful attempts on Fitz Roy. Kauffman and Toman are the first to climb the east summit.

Kauffman and Toman originally planned to climb Fitz Roy, via the Afanasieff Ridge (ED-: 5.9 A2, 1600m, Afanasieff-Afanasieff-Abert-Fabre, 1979), but an insecure weather forecast and rumors of other teams eyeing the same route caused them to shift their sights to Cerro Pollone. They approached the route from Piedra Negra under the light of a sliver moon and their headlamps. Kauffman began the climb at dawn with a wet, chossy, moss crack that accessed the excellent granite of the lower rock buttress. Above, the two simul-climbed 200m of moderate snow that brought them to the upper ridge around 11am. With Toman leading, the pair traversed the knife edge ridge until an steep, unprotected slab forced them to pendulum left into a gritty and wet system that required aid to regain the ridge. Two more exciting pitches of 5.10 with a short A1 section brought them to a short slab and the tiny summit.

The two spent the short night in Toman’s one-man bivy sac during the descent, and reached the base of the route early on Jan 2nd. Dehydrated, utterly exhausted, and extremely happy, Kauffman and Toman made the slog back to the trailhead and hitchhiked home to El Chalten. Re puesto! is Argentine slang meaning ‘totally fucked up” in reference to their state of depletion after the adventure. For more information on the climb visit Neil’s blog at Planet Kauffman.

Neil Kauffman on pitch six of the first ascent of Pollone East. [Photo] Jim Toman

Sources: Neil Kauffman, Jim Toman,