Cerro Torre- the lie and the desecration


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 201 - 220 of total 266 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 4, 2009 - 05:04pm PT
Thanks for summing it up for Pete. As a member of the jury I was not at all happy with Doug's explanation as to why a person/team did not get the award. He meant well, but it came off as too negative for climbs of such high merit. I mentioned this to Christian and i think that changes will ensue.
David Wilson

May 4, 2009 - 11:51pm PT
Guys, I hope this posting works. One more photo in today from a friend of mine, Kike Arnal. Never seen this aerial view before.

The Warbler

the edge of America
May 5, 2009 - 01:03am PT
THAT is an awesome photo.

Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
May 5, 2009 - 10:28am PT
Just one question :

Did anyone else on Maestri's team that put up the Compressor Route ever have anything to say [publicly or privately] whether or not anyone had actually stood on the summit on that attempt ?


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2009 - 10:56am PT
Good point- I don't know. Of course with the 1959 route the only other climber, Toni Egger, died. Let's not confuse the two issues. My statement was that Maestri failed in his attempt, lied about it and then went back in 1970 and put in the controversial Compressor Route.
In 1977 or 78? Jim Bridwell did the first alpine style ascent of the Compressor Route. Jim found compelling evidence that the Maestri team ended their climb a short distance from the top and did not actually summit.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the Maestri/Egger climb ended below the Col of Conquest and believe Bridwell's claims about the 1970 climb. Regarding that climb Maestri was quoted as saying that climbing the mushroom was not important as it would fall off some day.
Sifting through everything leads me to the conclusion that the first ascent of Cerro Torre should be credited to Casimiro Ferrari et al for their brilliant ascent of the West Face in January 1974.

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
May 5, 2009 - 11:15am PT
It took my high speed connection a while to download
the pic Dave posted the link to so here's a jpg of this remarkable shot...
His link did not contain any reference or attribution
to the photographer.


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2009 - 11:55am PT
Wow!!! David/Reilly this picture shows it all. Taken just after a storm you can see the West Face of Cerro Torre, both the Col of Conquest and the Col of Hope, Torre Egger, the giant West Face of Fitzroy etc. etc. Best of all, a great view of the little known El Cap sized N. Face of Pier Giorgio, and the North Pillar of Cerro Pollone. I can see five of my first ascents and some near misses in this one shot. Kinda wets the appetite!
David Wilson

May 5, 2009 - 08:39pm PT
Hey Jim, The photo is by Kike Arnal, a Venezuelan photographer/climber. I'm not normally a fan of aerial images, but that one caught my attention. I was down climbing in Patagonia in 1985, my lifetime high water line for anything alpine. Glad you enjoyed the image. David

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 5, 2009 - 10:44pm PT
David thanks for posting that photo. I agree about aerial pics but THAT photo is the most dramatic one I've ever seen of the whole range.
sandstone conglomerate

sharon conglomerate central
May 9, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
The Bridwell article link in the AAJ seems to be f**ked. that sucks because it looked like a good read.

May 9, 2009 - 10:43pm PT
The Bridwell AAJ pdf link works for me. Or just go to http://www.americanalpineclub.org/aajsearch and type "bridwell cerro torre" into the AAJ search box. You have to use the AAJ search box, not the upper box that searches the AAC web site.

Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 03:49am PT

>Did anyone else on Maestri's team that put up the Compressor >Route ever have anything to say [publicly or privately] whether >or not anyone had actually stood on the summit on that attempt ?

They stated (and, for all I know) continue to maintain that they summited. By the way, "2000 metri della nostra vita", the book that Maestri wrote on the 1970 experience (co-authored by his wife Fernanda, an interesting book that in some way anticipated some of the questions that have become so relevant in the current evalution of mountaineering, like the role of spouses and non-climbing relatives) states clearly that the summit (and the ice tower) were climbed.

Then of course Maestri told to Messner (in fact, Messner says that Maestri told him) that he did not, but to me it seems all part of Maestri deliberate shock tacticts when people start to annoy him.

There's however a controversy related to the descent. In the book, Maestri says that on the summit it suddenly decided to break every single bolt of the route (a plan than he himself admits was "childish and devious"). The he says that after breaking 20 or 30 of them he decided against it (by himself, I mean). But Alimonta later on revealed that the issue had been much more convoluted - after Maestri broke a couple of dozen of bolts, he and Claus told him that this nonsense was putting them all in danger, they were all tired and wanted to go down as soon as possible. Maestri insisted (he had stated from the beginning that he was the leader), and an huge argument erupted, with Alimonta and Claus threatening to leave him alone if he did not stop.

As far as I know Maestri never commented on this (but I may be wrong, I'm no Cerro Torre expert)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 10, 2009 - 11:30am PT
Luca- Are you saying that Maestri sought to erase the Compressor Route on the way down?

This seems like a perfect ploy to account for any irregularities described by the next party. Do you consider it fact that he removed some bolts from the route leading to the quarrel that you describe?

The chopped placements would seem to be unmistakable up in the area of Bridwell's rivet ladder and elsewhere.


Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 01:59pm PT

>Luca- Are you saying that Maestri sought to erase the Compressor >Route on the way down?

That's what he wrote in the book and that's what was reported by Alimonta and Claus later. Personally, I've some difficulty believing they were all lying, as this would give Maestri a bit too much credit as a conspirator... :)

The main difference is that in the book (and the interviews) Maestri says that he recognized spontaneously the idea was childish and stupid - it was basically "I've spent so much time and effort putting this route, it's MINE, so I don't want anyone else using it...". So he gave up. Alimonta's version is that he was hell bent on smashing every single bolt down to the base of the Torre, and he and Claus at some point told him something "Do you want to kill us or what?" (the weather was closing in and they were all tired and hungry). They went up almost to the point of fighting, then Maestri gave up.

The main difference between Maestri's version and the story reported by his mates is that in the latter he may have smashed far less bolts. However, Maestri talks about bolts on the headwall, and NOT placement on the ice tower - the doubt about him summiting in 1970 remains (in all honesty, while I think the 1958 climb undecidable, I believe he summited in 1970. My opinion).

>This seems like a perfect ploy to account for any >irregularities described by the next party. Do you consider it >fact that he removed some bolts from the route leading to the >quarrel that you describe?

Frankly, I just think Maestri was, at the time, the closest thing to a real life Captain Achab you may figure out. He was obsessed on climbing the Torre again, and he was obsessed in doing it on his own terms, and he was obsessed by the idea to humiliate everyone who had doubted the 1958 climb. He didn't just wanted to win - he wanted to triumph (in some way he DID triumph - his return to Madonna di Campiglio in 1970 is still the stuff of legends). So, yes, I think he removed the bolts, and he really wanted to destroy the entire route. Not to cover his own tracks - he wanted to do it because it was HIS route.

>The chopped placements would seem to be unmistakable up in the >area of Bridwell's rivet ladder and elsewhere.

Just for the records - Marco Pedrini (another gifted climber, and the first to solo the Compressor Route in 1985 - died the year aftewards descending from the Drus) confirmed to have seen several smashed bolts above the compressor. Again - this just mean that Maestri reached the summit ice tower, is not a proof that they summited.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 10, 2009 - 04:50pm PT
Thanks Luca!

You have such a rich perspective and wealth of information! Thanks for sharing it with us.

The Ahab comparison is right in line with the way that I see him, too. Dogged, proud and tenacious.

Is that account written by Maestri and his wife available in english?

Torino, Italy
May 10, 2009 - 05:15pm PT
Steve G.

Not sure, the book is this one


It's interesting for Fernanda's perspective (at the time climbers spouses didn't got much voice in the sport's literature, so it was in some way an ahead of its time book). On the other hand, people disliking Maestri's arrogance may find the book difficult to bear (it's beautifully written however, at least in Italian).

Another good Maestri's book is "Se La Vita Continua" (If Life Goes On), the follow up of the "2000 metri). I don't think it was ever translated, but I may be wrong.

Boulder climber
May 20, 2009 - 08:10am PT
Thanks to Jim for the excellent write up, which came out at a very timely time, the 50th anniversary of the ascent of the first 300 meters of a dihedral on the east face of Cerro Torre...

In case some might be interested, Messner just wrote a book on the matter. It was published in German a couple of months ago:


in Italian just recently:


I dont know if Ken Wilson/Batonwicks and/or the Mountaineers plan to translated it into english.

The book has no "new material", and unfortunately does not credit nor quote the sources, has a number of mistakes and deficient bibliography, but since people pay attention to anything Reinhold says it is a welcome addition, and does help "close" the case, particularly in Italy where, unlike in the rest of the world, resistance to admitting the "shortcomings" of one of their "regional institutions" (Maestri) has been particularly fierce: just ask Ermanno Salvaterra the amount of grief he has received for coming out three years ago to question Maestri in public!!!

Messner presented the Italian edition of the book just before the Trento Film Festival, an english subtitled video can be seen here:


Other non-subtitled (in italian) videos of Messner and Ermanno discussing the subject can be seen here for Messner:


and here for Ermanno:


For those that might not know, Ermanno climbed Cerro Torre 5 times, although reducing all the time and effort the has devoted to the peak in the number of times he reached the last inches of the peak is a major understantement.

In an Italian forum Ermanno suggests to the "believers" to go up there, to Cerro Torre, and have a look. Not as a negative comment trying to discount those that cannot go up there, but as a positive, since the truth of what happened becomes painfully obvious when seeing the terrain and comparing it to all the original descriptions of the supposed ascent. Obviously the first person to experience this was Jim, with John and Jay in 1976.


Ermanno also suggest to the "believers" to participate with "concrete" stuff. It would be great to read a well researched piece -with concrete arguments, references, quotes, bibliography and etc- countering each and every point of Jim Donini's recent write up, Ken Wilson's many articles, Tom Dauer's book, Messner's book, my 2004 AAJ article, etc, etc. It is unfortunate that the likes of Lucas, or Elio Orlandi or others have not been willing to pick up the task.

Unfortunately Ermanno did not upload the english subtitled version of a film he made partly about this subject, but some might find it interesting anyways. The opening aerial footage is worth it.




Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2009 - 10:06am PT
Thanks Rolo for the bibliography. Your article in the AAJ is THE definitive statement about the controversy.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
May 20, 2009 - 01:31pm PT
That's a bunch of good links Rolo. Thanks.
(Been a while since we met at Torre summiter Mike Clifford's house, saw him yesterday, cheers.)

Climbing abounds with poignant stories, but few even come close to the tales of the Torre. With the complex and emotional nature of it's history how lucky we are as climbers to have such monuments to both the greatest strengths AND weaknesses within the human spirit.

I cannot imagine a more arresting example.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2009 - 01:33pm PT
Rolo.....YOU should write this book of which you speak. Certainly. Your 04 article is incredible.

thanks very much, Peter Haan
Messages 201 - 220 of total 266 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews