Crystal Davis-Robbins on the first ascent of Bloody Luck (5.11d A1 M4, 650m), Domo Blanco (2507m), Patagonia, Argentina. Davis-Robbins accomplished the FA with Jon Walsh and Chris Brazeau on January 13, taking a rock to the forehead on the approach, then another to the helmet at the first belay. Also on her trip, she established Fingerlicious (5.11b/c M4, 500m) on Quatros Dedos with Walsh and Brazeau and The Art of War (V 5.12a A2, 1000m) on Aguja de la S with Ryan Nelson. In addition to their new routes, Brazeau and Walsh also managed an ascent of Cerro Stanhardt via Exocet (VI 5.10 WI6, Smith-Smith-Bridwell, 1988) in twenty-two hours roundtrip on February 9 and an ascent of Torre Egger via Titanic (VI 5.11 A2 WI4, Orlandi-Giovanni, 1987) in eighteen hours of continuous climbing ?shrund to summit (thirty hours roundtrip from camp) on February 19. [Photo] Jon Walsh
The January 13 weather window was only supposed to be a small one. So despite the cold and windy morning, at 9:30 a.m., we left camp, thinking that we’d better take the gear for a walk just in case. Chris Brazeau and I had arrived in Patagonia two days before and immediately teamed up with Crystal Davis-Robbins. To get to our goal, a prominent northeasterly buttress that led directly to the summit of Quatros Dedos, the three of us now had to go past about ten or more other beautiful towers–probably the reason it had only ever seen one or two ascents.
Around noon, the winds died and the skies cleared, and by 1 p.m., we were roping up for the first of two low-angle mixed pitches. After eleven more long ropelengths of finger and hand cracks, face climbing and cryptic route finding (all at sustained 5.10 and 5.11) we stood under a surreally calm, starry sky, at 3:30 a.m. There we spent a good half an hour enjoying the moonlit views of the Hielo Sur and all the other spires, rappelled the route, and made it back to camp in a twenty-five-hour round trip. It was likely the second or third ascent of the peak via a completely virgin wall. The whole experience had felt Fingerlicious (5.11b/c M4, 500m).
On January 18, the next window was looking small, too, but this time we started in the dark for Quatro Dedos’ neighbor, Domo Blanco, another rarely visited peak. Here the glacier travel may have dissuaded people, but we found our way through the maze of crevasses, and began climbing soon after it got light. Unfortunately, the sun hit the mixed approach gully just as we started up it, and the rockfall started immediately. Just before making it through the danger zone, Crystal took a rock to the forehead. As she got to the anchor, another rock pegged her square in the head, splitting her helmet in two. At this point, going down would have been the most dangerous option, and Crystal, although shaken, was psyched to continue.
A few easy pitches above the gully brought us to the more inspiring headwall: three difficult pitches of perfect splitters, a corner with thirty meters of overhanging ring-locks and short section of sideways off-width climbing on superb granite. These two pitches required a few moves of clean aid but would likely have been 5.12 free. (The hardest pitch we free climbed was about 5.11d.) A few more rock pitches brought us to the aesthetic ice face and the ramp to the summit. We rappelled to climbers’ right of our ascent route and made it back to camp in twenty-four hours. Crystal named this line Bloody Luck, for obvious reasons (5.11d A1 M4, 650m).
Later in the trip, Chris and I climbed Cerro Standhardt via Exocet (VI 5.10 WI 6, Smith-Smith-Bridwell, 1988) in twenty-two hours round trip, and Torre Egger via Titanic (VI 5.11 A2 WI4, Orlandi-Giovanni, 1987) in thirty hours roundtrip camp to camp. Titanic was not the best climbing I’ve done in Patagonia but a good route to an incredible summit, while Exocet was about the best alpine ice route I’ve ever done.