Beautiful New Route on Patagonian Spire

Jesse Huey leads the splitter 5.10 cracks at the start of Last Gringo Standing. The ominous black dike is above. Photo by Toby Grohne.

Toby Grohne leads pitch 5’s fist crack, above the dike traverse. Photo by Jesse Huey.

Americans Toby Grohne and Jesse Huey established a striking new route on Agjua St. Exupery, a satellite peak south of Fitz Roy in Patagonia. The two climbed Last Gringos Standing (V 5.11- C1) just left of the knife-edge southwest ridge of the peak over two days in early March.

Huey and Mike Pennings had spotted the route in February, but a mandatory traverse of the wild black dike that crosses the face was a scary question mark. During a recon, the two climbed three pitches of perfect 5.10 cracks to the dike, where they discovered enough holds to allow a 60-foot leftward traverse to a second crack system, which promised to lead to the upper ridge.

Grohne on the upper southwest ridge of St. Exupery. Photo by Jesse Huey.

The line of Last Gringos Standing (V 5.11- C1) on the southwest ridge of Aguja St. Exupery. Photo by Jesse Huey.

On March 2, Huey returned with Grohne and fired most of the route in the day, free-climbing everything except for one icy crack. “The upper headwall seemed to go on forever, with steep, perfect hand and fist cracks all the way to the…Austrian Ridge” (Barnthaler- Lidi, 1987), the spur to the right. The two followed the existing ridge route for several pitches and bivied at the notch between a false summit and the true peak, an extremely cold night with only “emergency bivy sacks” for warmth. The two named the route because they were the last two American climbers of about 25 hanging out in Argentinean Patagonia this season.

Jesse Huey (left) and Toby Grohne on the upper southwest ridge of  St. Exupery. Photo by Jesse Huey.

For Grohne and Huey, the new route capped an adventurous Patagonian season blessed by unusually good weather. The two climbed the Whillans Route on Aguja Poincenot, a new variation to the north pillar of Fitz Roy called Gringos Perdidos, and Aguja de la S. They also made two attempts on Cerro Torre’s west face (including a 35-kilometer retreat across the ice cap in soul-sucking heat) and one on Cerro Torre’s Compressor Route.

Dates of Ascent: March 2-3, 2008

Source: Jesse Huey

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