Germans Stephen Siegrist and Thomas Senf along with Dani Arnold of Switzerland have made the first winter ascent of Torre Egger (2685m) in Argentine Patagonia. This remarkable achievement was accomplished in just three full days of climbing.
The trio had only been in the Torre Group for a few days before embarking on their climb. Indeed it took them a total of only seven days after arriving in El Chalten to climb and then safely descend Torre Egger. Blessed with low winds for the majority of those days the team did however find plenty of snow that made getting to the base of the tower tricky and they also encountered temperatures that often dipped below -20 degrees C.
Starting the climb on August 1st, at the end of this first day the route led them to bivy between Torre Egger and Cerro Standhardt on the remains of an ice avalanche. From this point difficult mixed climbing characterised the route with iced up cracks and Senf taking a long and unexpected fall that fortunately did not result in serious injury.
On the second day they climbed for 22 hours straight. This was because they were unable to find a suitable bivy spot and subsequently they arrived below the summit snow mushroom in the middle of the night. Needing daylight to negotiate the mushroom they were forced to chop an ice seat and wait. "Over the next few hours, all three of us dozed and entertained dark thoughts about what it would be like, so close to the summit, to find ourselves in a full-blown Patagonian storm" says Siegrist. Fortunately no storm materialised and they were able to climb the summit mushroom via an ice canal that Siegrist had used on a summer ascent on Torre Egger in 1999. The last three pitches of climbing were led by Dani Arnold and the trio were on top of Torre Egger at midday on the 3rd of August.
For more information visit Mammut.
For some great images visit http://stephan-siegrist.ch/de/projects/patagonia/torre.egger.2010