Trip Report
Compressor Route of Cerro Torre, Patagonia - February 2008 (pre-chopping)
Wednesday November 25, 2015 9:23am
Many people have an opinion about this historic route, yet relatively few have even stood at its base. I'm not trying to defend the style of the FA, but will simply let people see what this climb was like.

Certain routes become iconic in climbing history, like the Heckmaier on Eiger's North Face, which a lot of climbers have great respect for. I happened to have climbed that route too about half a year before my ascent of the Compressor Route, and can honestly say that the Eiger felt easy in comparison to Cerro Torre.

Here is a visual trip report of the infamous Compressor Route before the bolts on the head wall were chopped:

The Torres.
The Torres.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Approach to Cerro Torre.
Approach to Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Approach to Cerro Torre.
Approach to Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Looking up the east face of Cerro Torre
Looking up the east face of Cerro Torre
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Climbing Cerro Torre with Torre Egger looming behind.
Climbing Cerro Torre with Torre Egger looming behind.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Approach climbing on Cerro Torre.
Approach climbing on Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Belaying on Cerro Torre with Fitz Roy in the background.
Belaying on Cerro Torre with Fitz Roy in the background.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Evening with the shadow of the Torres on the west face of Fitz Roy.
Evening with the shadow of the Torres on the west face of Fitz Roy.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Fitz Roy seen from Cerro Torre.
Fitz Roy seen from Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Bivy time.
Bivy time.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Bivy half way up the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre.
Bivy half way up the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Evening view of Cerro Standhart.
Evening view of Cerro Standhart.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Blank slab on the infamous bolt traverse.
Blank slab on the infamous bolt traverse.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

The infamous bolt traverse on Cerro Torre's Compressor Route.
The infamous bolt traverse on Cerro Torre's Compressor Route.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Ice traverse on the Compressor Route of Cerro Torre.
Ice traverse on the Compressor Route of Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Ice towers.
Ice towers.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

View of the ice cap.
View of the ice cap.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Start of the head wall.
Start of the head wall.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Scary flakes.
Scary flakes.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

On the head-wall of the Compressor Route, Cerro Torre.
On the head-wall of the Compressor Route, Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Bivouac! French for being slow. Sleepless night on the head wall of Ce...
Bivouac! French for being slow. Sleepless night on the head wall of Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Close-up of the compressor, Cerro Torre
Close-up of the compressor, Cerro Torre
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Hanging out on the compressor, Cerro Torre
Hanging out on the compressor, Cerro Torre
Credit: KristofferSzilas

Summit rim of Cerro Torre.
Summit rim of Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

On the summit of Cerro Torre.
On the summit of Cerro Torre.
Credit: KristofferSzilas

  Trip Report Views: 7,793
KristofferSzilas
About the Author
Kristoffer Szilas is a mountain climber from Denmark.

Comments
KristofferSzilas

Mountain climber
Denmark
Author's Reply  Nov 25, 2015 - 09:43am PT
Thanks eKat, BTW there is a Youtube of this trip to Patagonia (with horrible techno music) here:
[Click to View YouTube Video]
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 25, 2015 - 09:43am PT
Beautiful pictoral account! By the time We got very high a BAD storm had moved in. We pushed thru it to within 60 meters of the summit but with nightfall coming and our headlamps weakening we bailed in an intensifying storm. It was pretty much an epic descent.
Patagonia weather completely changes the game.
.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  Nov 25, 2015 - 09:49am PT
Great photos!

I had as much fun during my season on the Compressor Route as I've ever had in my climbing life (1995-1996). 14 attempts spread over two months, great friendships either made or cemented -- Alex Hall, Jim Donini, Stefan Hiermaier, Charlie Fowler -- capped by the most beautiful sunrise I will ever see in my life after bivying on the summit.

I wouldn't trade my Compressor Route experience for all the money in the world.
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  Nov 25, 2015 - 10:00am PT
PS: That f*#king old Joe Brown helmet I'd been using for alpine since I first went to Scotland for spring break in March 1987... threw that f*#king thing down a crevasse on the backside of Mount Bradley after doing the Bourbon Bottle Route four months after coming home from Patagonia that year. Haven't seen it since.
Gene

climber
  Nov 25, 2015 - 10:04am PT
Kristoffer,

Thank you. Beautiful pictures.

Please post a report of your trip up the Eiger.

Gene
John M

climber
  Nov 25, 2015 - 10:18am PT
Wow! Way cool..

Armchair climber here, but loving every minute of it. Thanks for taking us along.
ron gomez

Trad climber
  Nov 25, 2015 - 10:56am PT
FINALLY some killer climbing content and even better, it's somewhat historical! Great post thanks for the holiday gift!
Peace
Gagner

climber
Boulder
  Nov 25, 2015 - 11:07am PT
More great shots, and a stroll down memory lane.

Scott Cole, Walt Shipley and I did the compressor route in 1987 (before doing the Super Couloir). We arrived in El Chaltan to splitter weather, and while our original plan was to climb the west face, we changed our plans to the Compressor Route so we could start climbing right away and take advantage of the good weather. We summited in a storm - we had only been in the country for 10 days - and had an epic all night rap in the tempest.

Fun times!!
KristofferSzilas

Mountain climber
Denmark
Author's Reply  Nov 25, 2015 - 11:36am PT
Gene, here you go: http://www.supertopo.com/tripreport/tripreport.php?articleid=12881
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Nov 25, 2015 - 12:42pm PT
UN frEEKING believable!! Wow, just wow. Great job you two.
Crag Q

Trad climber
Louisville, Colorado
  Nov 25, 2015 - 12:46pm PT
Hardcore. Great TR.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
  Nov 25, 2015 - 12:57pm PT

The most photogenic walls on earth...
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Nov 25, 2015 - 01:24pm PT
Great Photos! It took some feeling cold to take them it looks like! Nice close up of the compressor that caused SO much news in the Alpine Climbing Community around the world, all from way up there! Thanks!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Nov 25, 2015 - 02:00pm PT
This is the best (bar none) TR of Patagonian delights I've seen since 1970 when I and my climbing partner Jeff Mathis attended an AAC event in the Visitors' Center in YoVal, featuring a lecture by Norman Clyde and A Galen Rowell slide show of the Harding/Rowell rescue by RR on the SF of Half Dome the winter before.

Also on that night, we were informed by Dick Dorworth's comments on his showing of the film of Fritz Oy on the classic Funhog Expedition. That was the first time that most of us gathered there in the VC were exposed to the possibilities awaiting us in the area of the Massif Central.

This is my favorite of all the above shots.
Old Maestri himself might could have loved this TR.

donini, you seem to thrive on adversity. Keep on truckin', young man.


Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  Nov 25, 2015 - 02:36pm PT














Wish I was down there now, trying to summon the courage to face the massed field pieces of Patagonia
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Nov 25, 2015 - 02:23pm PT
Oh stop. I can barely contain my joy and excitement on this trip report.
You so captured and shared an incredible experience.
My great appreciation for sharing it!

Susan
Roots

Mountain climber
Somewhere Fun
  Nov 25, 2015 - 03:23pm PT
Excellent!
this just in

climber
Justin Ross from North Fork
  Nov 25, 2015 - 03:36pm PT
Great Report. Big thanks.
KristofferSzilas

Mountain climber
Denmark
Author's Reply  Nov 25, 2015 - 04:02pm PT
Thanks for posting your photos Jim and Gregory.
Looks like you had to endure really grim conditions on the mountain!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  Nov 25, 2015 - 04:39pm PT
All part of the fun, KristofferSzilas! I always used to say that it's not Patagonia unless you hang on the cross for awhile. It does look like you had a really dry season. I look at your photo that shows the approach wall being almost completely dry, whereas I recall climbing snow and mixed the whole way to the Col of Patience, crampons on all the way. Love your pics of the Compressor.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Nov 25, 2015 - 05:01pm PT
What a thread! It's hard to overlook the pictures, but I think my favorite is the caption: "Bivouac: French for being slow."

This trip report and the other posts is a marvel.

John
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Nov 25, 2015 - 05:31pm PT
Thank you Kristoffer for all your wonderful photos, & Jim & Greg, thank you so much for adding comments, content, & still more wonderful photos.

A great ST thread.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
  Nov 25, 2015 - 05:38pm PT
Badazz!
Cool to see the route in both conditions.
hobo_dan

Social climber
Minnesota
  Nov 25, 2015 - 07:14pm PT
when men were men!
thanks for sharing
namascar

Trad climber
Pasadena, CA
  Nov 25, 2015 - 07:28pm PT
Thanks. Great pics
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Nov 25, 2015 - 08:31pm PT
Beautiful!
drljefe

climber
El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Nov 25, 2015 - 08:57pm PT
Beautiful, hardcore, inspiring.

Thanks for the shares.
overwatch

climber
Arizona
  Nov 25, 2015 - 09:38pm PT
Yep, me too
jemtuck

Sport climber
Johannesburg
  Nov 26, 2015 - 08:27am PT
That summit mushroom is unique to Cero Torre. What an awesome TR and climb, great pics from everyone. Why bother with Himalaya when got such incredible rock in South America?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 26, 2015 - 08:38am PT
Unique to the Torres....Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and Cerro Stanhardt all have summit mushrooms.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 26, 2015 - 09:01am PT
I have no idea Randisi.....it changes season to season and even within a season. In 1976 on the FA we left a carabiner, that I found the year before when I discovered on Toni Egger's remains, on the summit. One wonders under how much ice it now is?
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Nov 26, 2015 - 09:26am PT
Amazing TR and photos. Thanks to everyone who has shared photos of the ultimate alpine area on the planet. . . still in my dreams to get there.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 26, 2015 - 09:35am PT
A few more photos of the Torres.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 26, 2015 - 12:41pm PT
Great thread everyone!

How strange it must have been to be in that environment listening to the compressor motor and breathing exhaust fumes. Have Maestri's partners maintained their silence as this saga has unfolded?
toejahm

Trad climber
Chatsworth, CA
  Nov 26, 2015 - 04:22pm PT
Wow, your photo documentation is just incredible.
Congrats on your successful summit.
Peace,
kr
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Nov 26, 2015 - 07:09pm PT
Wow another great tr. That is one beautiful place. I must go someday. Hopefully while I can still climb at a decent enough level to have a chance of getting up something.
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Nov 27, 2015 - 09:12am PT
Thanks, Kris for a beautiful TR. And thanks to Donini and Crouch for additional photos of this amazing place.

I hope to get a chance to look at the rest of Kris' TRs over the next couple of days. It's great to see climbing content on the front page.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 3, 2015 - 11:21am PT
Mercy. Just f*#king outrageous. The Torre, holy sh#t, nothing like it. Thanks so much to everyone who posted here.

Every time I see Donini's photo I get a dagger of ice in the heart. Equal parts beauty and pure horror. You can hear the howling coming off of this thing.

Here's Donini's pic with some contrast. Yeeeeeeesh.

Woody the Beaver

Trad climber
Soldier, Idaho
  Dec 3, 2015 - 03:10pm PT
Thanks for the trip. Thanks, thanks!
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Dec 3, 2015 - 03:30pm PT
Pure badassness. Thanks for letting us tag along.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Dec 4, 2015 - 08:22pm PT
Chalten inspiration!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 5, 2015 - 03:11am PT
Solid gold!
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Dec 5, 2015 - 07:21am PT
That Donini pic of the wind blowing snow over the top of CT is amazing. He should sell it!
johntp

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Dec 5, 2015 - 10:09am PT
Missed this until now. Kick ass TR and comments.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Dec 8, 2015 - 06:53pm PT
What a great TR, and pictures that are unbelievable.
Great input by Donini and Crouch. Thanks to all.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Dec 9, 2015 - 08:54am PT
Didn't this Donini pic end up on a Climbing mag cover or something? It looks familiar. Beautiful photograph.


There was a beautiful photo of the ice route on the back side in a Rock & Ice issue a few years ago. I think that Hayden Kennedy took it, or his partner did. It is called the Ferrari route, yes? Also the FA of the mountain used that route. The pic showed these wild ice formations along the route. Unlike any normal ice route. It looked like a fairy tale route. So beautiful.

Straighten me out if I am wrong.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Apr 21, 2016 - 08:50pm PT
Sure hope we can lure out Mikey Schaefer to talk about free climbing the headwall this past season with Josh Warton and a guy who was basically new to crampons and cold weather (or so the story goes.)
Go