Photos from the 11/99 FA of A Fine Piece in Patagonia

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BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 13, 2013 - 07:00pm PT
Yay. I saw that on my FB page about 20 minutes ago and was blown away. That route looks sooo clean. A prettier locale than the valley as well.

If that route was in Yosemite, judging by the pics, it would be 5 stars and among the best.

Was the rock as bulletproof as the pics suggest? I've seen some clean granite that is a tiny bit crispy.

Donini has done so many new routes. He is kind of like the Fred Beckey of the modern era.

PTPP was way into the Russian Aiders on El Cap a few years back. He raved about them but they never caught on, I guess.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
Was the rock as bulletproof as the pics suggest? I've seen some clean granite that is a tiny bit crispy.

Base104 (your number, I take it?), in my memory that rock was pretty perfect, but I probably ought to hear that confirmed by the Kauffman brothers before making outlandish claims. As I recall, the only section with suspect rock was the traverse out to the corner in the "my glory pitch" photo. But the rest of that pitch was 5.7 cruising in a gobsmacking alpine corner right to the very top. (We might have simulclimbed a bit there...)

But it is in the high mountains. The only other alpine granite that was as good that I've ever encountered was on The Old Smuggler's Route on the north face of Aguja Poincenot, which I also did with Jim. :-)

Old Smuggler's has some objective hazard on its approach, however. There is none on the way to A Fine Piece. And the route itself felt really safe to me, too.

And yes, in my opinion, if that route were in the Valley it'd be in Roper and Steck's book, and it'd be one of the most popular rock climbs in the world. (It's probably about the size of the DNB.) And also yes, the setting of A Fine Piece is exponentially more spectacular than the Valley. No doubt about that.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 07:28pm PT
Yo Greg!!! I have a number of those photos but some of them I have never seen before. That certainly was a fine.....and safe climb- should be a classic. I suppose the length of the approach is a little daunting for some.
Angela put a bunch of scanned photos from the Kichatna Spires on a thumb drive, i'll bring them with me next week.

Jim! Sorry, I missed your check in. We might have to spend some time with the light trays next week. :-)

There are probably a lot of pics from that trip and the walk out to Estancia La Maipu that you haven't seen. I'll burn you off a disc of these plus the Shaken, Not Stirred pics when you're here.

What fun that was!

And thanks to Angela for setting me up with the Kichatna spires pics.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 13, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
All of my alpine experience is in the alps or the Sierra.

Most alpine rock tends to get pretty shattered and comes tumbling down on you at incovenient intervals. Well, it is pretty inconveniant any time.

That route is cleaner than anything that I saw in Chamonix with the exception of the shorties on the back side of the Aiguille du Midi which is also perfect but short.

The Sierra probably has rock that clean, but I've never seen it. Or much of it, anyway.

That route is cleaner than the Central Pillar of Frenzy in the valley. It is cleaner than the Dru. It is cleaner than the Fissure Brown. There is very little rock in Chamonix that is that clean, and even then only for a way.

I judge it to be pretty f%*(ing good. I wish that I had gone down there.

I'm getting into sailing now, and the beta on rounding Cape Horn is that statistically, there is usually a calm period in the first few weeks of January. I don't know that personally, though.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 07:42pm PT
Base104, as far as alpine rock goes, in my experience, A Fine Piece and The Old Smuggler's Route had the best I've ever touched, anywhere -- nothing I've climbed in the Sierras, RMNP, Winds, Tetons, North Cascades, Bugaboos, Ruth Gorge, Kichatnas was as consistently good.

In fact, for granite routes in excess of 10 pitches, I'd put the rock on both of those routes in a class by themselves -- they had the best and cleanest granite I ever climbed, with the exception of some of the steep Valley classics...

I've always described doing the best pitches on The Old Smuggler's Route as being like finding pitches as good as the three-star classics on the Cookie that had never been touched before

Those sailing adventures sound pretty wild! I hope to have a few of those before I'm done.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 13, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Greg, i look forward to seeing some of your newly scanned phtos.

Yep....the approach to "A Fine Piece" is safe but most current climbers in El Chalten will consider it very arduous, especially with the current trend of dossing in an apartment in town. When you speak of reminiscing i think back to my first years in Patagonia when that eyesore (El Chalten) didn't exist. I know, you can never go back except in your mind.

Base 104....I've climbed "alpine" granite in Alaska, the Lower 48, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Canada, the Alps, China and Patagonia. I can say, without a doubt, that the BEST stone is in Patagonia.
Rumor has it, however, that the weather can be trying.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 13, 2013 - 07:53pm PT
Jim, Did you follow the link on the previous page to the blog posts from the guys who just climbed it?

It's bitchin.
micronut

Trad climber
Feb 13, 2013 - 08:21pm PT
Stellar route! great write up. Thanks for sharing. This is what we all dream about.

A clean line in a wild land.

Credit: crouch/donini
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 13, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
Few are worthy.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 14, 2013 - 11:26am PT
As an addendum to the post, here's a photo of the west face of Piergorgio, which is about the size of El Cap. Greenpeace is the route that follows the buttress rising up the middle of the wall.

Credit: Gregory Crouch
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 07:11pm PT
Greg,

Did you post the link to the blog piece with great photos of the second ascent? They pretty much confirmed everything I've been saying about how it looks. It also agrees with your assessment. It is posted on Facebook and a must read.

The problem with Patagonia is that the entire Circ#m-Antarctic current not only hits it, but that it is the choke point for the biggest current in the world, or the most important, weather wise.

The current has to squeeze through the Drake Passage, which is the roughest water on Earth. That is the little squeeze it makes as it squirts in between the south tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Too bad about the weather. I have a bunch of friends who work up at the Storm Prediction Center. Top of the line forecasting meteorologists who put out all of the watches and severe weather forecasts in the U.S. They have access to worldwide data. I can also give you links straight to the weather models. There are many of them. The Navy as one that has the entire world on it.

The three day models are now amazingly good. Some models run out to ten days, and they are great about predicting events that far out. They see a big trough coming and that far out they may be off by a couple of hundred miles, but the system does come through.

The only problem with Patagonia is that there aren't very many weather stations upstream, meaning out to the west. If there were only 6 sounding stations, the forecasts would be very good. Surface Buoys only get surface data. Balloon soundings show the entire troposphere and above, and all soundings take place twice a day around the world at 00Z and 1200Z. Then they go into the models.

It is amazing that the wind is that strong, considering the altitude of less than 10,000 feet. Those are jet stream speeds, and the long fetch to the west...basically the whole pacific, allows the upper wind speeds to couple with the lower troposphere and you get jet stream winds. The Antarctic Polar jet is much faster than the Arctic Polar jet. It gets up to 200 mph.

Sorry. All of my friends are meteorologists. I should get an honorary degree. I have been up in Arctic Alaska a bunch, and there was a day up there that I could not even walk. The wind can scream, but I made it a couple of hundred yards and almost got knocked down about ten times. That is on flat ground.

Just think if that route had sunny weather at least 6 months a year. It would get trashed with fat 3 bolt belays and there would be a conga line on it. Seriously. That is one of the best routes I've ever seen. So you have a whole book, Greg? Gotta get it. It is OK to put in a shameless plug.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 07:12pm PT
That pic of Donini with his shades makes him lood just like Butthead. All he needs is a Metallica t-shirt.

Don't beat me up. I hear that you are not to be trifled with.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 14, 2013 - 07:22pm PT
BASE, I've written two you might enjoy: Enduring Patagonia & China's Wings, both of which are readily available.

Enduring Patagonia is my literary take on the alpine climbing experience in Patagonia, China's Wings was published last Feb, and it's an untold WWII flying story.

There's a CW thread buried here on Supertopo. Give it a bump. ;-)

Plenty of info about both on my website, too.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 14, 2013 - 07:45pm PT
http://joelandneilsclimbingblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/cerro-pollone-fine-piece.html

That is a link to a recent ascent of the route. I never go all gah gah over anything, but that climb looks about perfect. You can't see the wind in pictures.

With that kind of rock and those huge faces, it looks like a place with a lot of room left. Has that El Cap sized face been climbed? If you stuck it in the Trango Group it would see flocks of climbers.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2013 - 12:39pm PT
Another photo of the Marconi Cirque, one that shows the true size of Piergorgio's west face relative to A Fine Piece and Torrecita Tito Carrasco, and we got 15 or 16 full value pitches out of A Fine Piece.

A pretty big Patagonian stone.
A pretty big Patagonian stone.
Credit: Gregory Crouch

The classic route up Piergorgio is called Greenpeace.

When Donini and I were up near the top of Pollone's west pillar, seeing Piergorgio's west face and Greenpeace in perfect profile, Jim said something to the effect of, "What a wall, and God damn that looks like a wild ass climb, but who'n the f*#k names a route after an environmental movement? F*#kin' whales. Greenpeace my ass, this route is a A Fine Piece."

And thus a route was named.

But humor aside, Greenpeace looks to be a phenomenal route, and one well worthy of more traffic than it has seen to date. Much like A Fine Piece.
roy

Social climber
NZ -> SB,CA -> Zurich
Feb 15, 2013 - 02:44pm PT
Hi Gregory,
That's an amazing climb in unbelievable territory. Fantastic pictures too.

Cheers, Roy
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 15, 2013 - 11:37pm PT
I don't quite know what to compare it to because I can't think of an alpine rock climb in the United States that's anywhere close to its league.

Man that thing looks good! Whatever the approach is who cares if all that rock is there and no hoards of competitors.

yeah there's a few pillars like that in Canada, like in the bugs on the Howsers and the minaret sub spire of south howser tower. Others are more remote like in the Stikine Ice cap or Waddington range. Get a load of some of these pics here:

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1768379&tn=80
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Feb 16, 2013 - 12:00am PT
Amazing rock and spirit of adventure!
Thanks a lot!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 16, 2013 - 10:10am PT
Sunday morning climbing bump...the front page looks like CNN. Heading out for some tasty sandstone in Castle Valley!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Have fun, Jim! Wish I were joining you.

Interestingly, David Allfrey, one of the three guys who made the recent repeat of A Fine Piece, checked in on the Enduring Patagonia Facebook page last night. It sounds like he's got strong Bay Area ties, and I'm hoping to have a beer with him and hear his story when he gets back from Patagonia.

I've been posting lots photos to the EP FB page, with lots of links to other things climbing related.
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