Cerro Torre- the lie and the desecration


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Apr 3, 2009 - 11:18pm PT
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Apr 3, 2009 - 11:24pm PT

They oughta just call it the Roman Tower.

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
Apr 3, 2009 - 11:56pm PT
Largo wrote: ""When I interviewed Jim Bridwell for Mountain Magazine about 25 years ago, it was right after Jim made the supposed 2nd ascent of the "Compressor Route" on Cerro Torre. The first ascent was attributed to Casare Maestri, circa 1970, via his now infamous compressor debacle. I am not entirely certain (perhaps some other reader is), but as I remember it, Maestri did not climb the final ice mushroom, which rests on top of the rock "summit." I believe Casare claimed that since the ice mushroom was not part of the rock, it didn't represent a legitimate summit - or some such thing.""

I read that article 20 some years ago... and I have the worse memory going, so don't trust me... but I remember it as Maestri said he did the Mushroom in '59. But, then when he was criticized for not doing it when he did the Compressor route he said he'd "never been on the Mushroom." The author was pretty easy on Maestri if I remember right... but noted this slip up. But, then gave him an out by saying that oftentimes those guys would not do some boulder type thing on the top. I don't know, I read it a long time ago. lol
Double D

Apr 4, 2009 - 12:43am PT
"if I remember rightly, Maestri said something about chopping some of the bolts at the top of the ladder"

I remember Jim telling his version of why he didn't think the route had been completed by Maestri but I don't remember him saying anything about a chopped bolt ladder. Maybe it was over-shadowed by his tale of falling 150í on a bowline-on-a-coil and cracking his ribs.

Any more sheep rustling stories over the years?



Los Angeles
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Thanks for posting.

Apr 4, 2009 - 02:03am PT
TwistedCrank, thanks for posting the link to Bridwell's AAJ article. I had not read it. That is awesome, literally, as in inspiring awe.

When Bridwell writes of the blank stretch of rock after the last bolt, "My God, I thought, Maestri must have nailed 80 feet of ice tenuously bound to smooth rock. It was a bad joke and inconsistent with the magazine articles," I think you can tell what his opinion was.

It is sort of spooky to see the picture looking down on the compressor drill bolted to the mountain. I found a picture that shows it still there in 2005. I suppose it will be there until rust and falling objects sweep it away someday.
Eric McAuliffe

Trad climber
Alpine County, CA
Apr 4, 2009 - 02:56am PT
largo rote -at that point where Jim had to bust out his Yosemite wall tackle and throw down some legitimate Valley A3 to surmount the last part of the face of Cerro Torre.

i think that was superbadass

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 4, 2009 - 10:54am PT
Note that Jim's partners bailed on him after arriving there, their bollocks shrivelling in terror. Funny how that happens sometimes, eh? What a gripping tale as Jim and Steve race the oncoming storm towards the summit!

Best quotes from Bridwell's article:

"Nevertheless, I like to think that if youíre not scared, youíre not having fun; and, if thatís true, the Cerro Torre is worth a couple of years at Disneyland."

"I realized that we were higher on the Cerro Torre than anyone else had ever been in a single day. I knew that what Steve and I had just done was but a premonition of how fast and well the younger climbers will do the difficult technical routes in the future. We had probably climbed the fastest and farthest ever accomplished on any mountain of that

Great stuff!
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 4, 2009 - 11:51am PT
Don't get the old farts going on this one!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 4, 2009 - 12:12pm PT
"[Jim,] don't you know that Mountain Hardware now makes titatium bed pans?"


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 4, 2009 - 12:38pm PT
Pete, I'm getting an enema right after I finish dialysis.

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Apr 4, 2009 - 01:00pm PT
Cool stuff - thanks!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Apr 4, 2009 - 01:17pm PT
I think I need one of those. Where can I get it?
(My bedpan is too heavy.)
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Apr 4, 2009 - 01:23pm PT
Good read by James D. Bridwell.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Apr 4, 2009 - 01:56pm PT
Jim, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this. I'm looking for all those articles you are going to write for Alpinist coming up.... Your passion and need to know the truth jump off the page. Its really great to see you posting up here.

I've never climbed Cerro Torre but I've always been fascinated by it. I'm a history bluff and have all the old mountain magazines back home in NZ. To the best of my knowledge I've never seem anything that looked like a summit shot, or shoulder shot. Most of the photos are descriptive, shots from the glacier, etc....

My understanding is that either of three things happened:

1. There was a lot of ice that year and they were to climb the ice sheet to the shoulder. Doubtful considering the date of the ascent and ice climbing techology, protection at the time?

2. They bolted the last stretch to the ice and then stood on the shoulder and then erased their bolts. Doubtful as well, since Jim bridwell never mention this. If anyone come spot a line he would have.

3. They didn't get any higher than the compressor. Don't know? Maybe the real story. As people get closer to their nature death often the truth is told, but i expect in this case the people know will hold on to their version of what happened.

Once we took everything about things like this as gospel and it wasn't questioned, but with a mountain such as CT, it is such an iconic summit then we all need to know the truth. Where is the photographic evidence. What about the memories of the other climbers...

I can't believe that Jim Bridwell missed a line of erased bolts, (smashed in)? At the time of the ascent there was no one better in the world with his big wall skill set.

Anyhow, another snowy day in Denver so i'm surfing rather than out having fun...

Thanks to everyone who makes this site such at neat place to hang out.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Apr 4, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
My understanding from people who've done the route is that many bolts are short 5mm wedge ended "piton type" that tend to loosen on their own.

In some cases people have pulled them out by hand and then hammered them back in with some matchbook cover or extraneous material to make a tighter fit,..
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Apr 4, 2009 - 02:01pm PT
Just to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Maestri deserves some credit for being a pioneer and a visionary.

Some pioneers and visionaries also lie, have huge egos, and some of their visions are ahead of their time, and some are flops.

Founder of the bolt gun, for better or worse, went up into a scary ass place where nobody had succeeded before, and bad ass in many other ways.

Not to excuse him, but hey, the number of visionary climbers that don't have hypocrite stories if you dig deep enough is pretty small.



Apr 4, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
Bragg, Donini and Wilson on Torre Egger


As for the case against Maestri, I'd say it's not completely airtight but the evidence against him is pretty damning. Who among us wouldn't like to believe him? I know I don't.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Apr 4, 2009 - 02:39pm PT

I agree with your statement that Maestri deserves some credit for being a pioneer and a visionary. He was an amazing climbing with vision and the drive.

I suppose I would one day just like it settled one way of the other so that we can give credit where it is due. I wonder how Maestri feels with people doubting him? It would eat me alive.

I don't have much in terms of "stuff", but I've always valued telling the truth highly, even when it hurts like hell. I learnt the hard way and it almost cost me my marriage but on Wednesday next week we will celebrate our 20th!

I just would really like to know what really happened?


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Apr 4, 2009 - 02:43pm PT
Kinda like this.......I think.

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