Trip Report
Fitz Roy w/ F-load of Photos
Friday July 14, 2017 9:54pm
This TR is way overdue, but getting a full time job in a different city, moving, training, trying to climb a bit more and type less got in the way. :)

As CA-based rock climbers the North Pillar was the climb Brian and I had in mind when hoping to climb the legendary Fitz Roy. It is a beautiful, aesthetic and a difficult rock climb, which unfortunately the weather in the mountains did not allow us (or anyone else) to tackle last season (January-February). While staying in Chalten I heard the season labeled as "the worst in the last ten years," by those who frequent the range and it was usually more suited to climb ice, if anything at all....

By the late February of 2017, close to the end of the summer season, Fitz Roy had only about a dozen ascents via Supercanaleta, which was as rimed up as most of the peaks in the Torre group. Being flexible and jumping on every opportunity to climb helped us be one of the lucky teams that have topped out.

Our first attempt at an attempt was ended by a storm that cleared about 20 hours later than it was predicted to. Ooops. We did take advantage of half a day of clear weather and hiked out to the Marconi glacier, to check out the walls that are rarely seen. After that, without a rest day, we zombie-marched into the Torre Valley to climb Rubio y Azul (IV 5.11) on Medialuna. My friend Garrett was in town without a partner and we invited him to join us. Even though the winds whipped to 35 miles per hour and the intermittent snow flurries kept things uncertain to the spire-like summit, we had a great day and a taste of rough conditions. Right after hiking out we checked the forecast and saw an opportunity to go climbing. This time we decided to try something bigger and attempt the Fitz Roy during seemingly a day-long break in a storm. It was really a sh#t window with a slim chance of getting anything done, but none of us are pros that take 2 month vacations several times a year, so we were stoked to hike out and see if we get lucky. Sh#t conditions on the hike in guaranteed that we would be the only people on route.

After two back to back trips into the mountains and only a single day of rest in town I felt serious fatigue on the hike from town to the base of the route, but did well hiding it with frequent stops to snap photos, the mountains of South America are jaw-dropping. The high winds and precipitation persisted deep into the night and kept us in the tent for a few hours longer than we hoped, but we finally crossed the bergshrund at 6 am. Spindrifts pounded us from above while the updraft kicked us in the behind from below. The first 3,000 feet of the route is the athletic crux - breaking knee-deep trail and soloing short sections of blue ice as steep as 65 degrees. To do the route in a day as a team of three, without a "trail" that other climbers busted we had to be fit. And hope for the conditions to get better.

When we finished with the athletic crux, the difficulty of technical terrain kicked up. During a dry season, we would climb moderate cracks. Iced up and rimed over these become significantly harder. For California-based climbers sinking hand jams feel more natural compared to scratching the pick of the ice tool through rime, in search of a positive hook. Precise front pointing on edges as thin as a couple of millimeters doesn't usually feel secure, but facing challenges out of our element is what made the ascent one of the most memorable of our lives.

Midway up we were reminded of the seriousness of the place as we climbed past the dead body of "Frank." It was mostly covered with water ice. I thought to work as a nurse helped me develop resistance to facing death, but the scene made me feel sad and very mortal. The harsh mountains do not care about karma or future ambitions of their visitors. Unpredictable rockfall, a slip on moderate terrain, rappelling accident or simply being in the wrong place is enough to meet the maker. Knowing only a year ago the dead body of another competent alpinist, Chad Kellog, was cut out from a belay higher up was one of the reasons Brian and I were not considering the route notorious for objective danger before coming to Chalten.

The technical difficulties were usually at or below WI4/M4 and a few of the harder sections felt around M6. Not too hard while cragging on Campbird road but on a 5,000 foot route the true crux is having enough endurance to climb without time-burning clusters or unnecessary stops. Going during the marginal forecasted weather and being a team of three, we decided to carry the bivy kit in case we had to wait out a passing wind storm near the summit. The stove, fuel, single sleeping bag and the tent cover. The extra weight slowed us down a little, yet we climbed one of the longer routes on the mountain in a little over twelve hours!

By the time we had enough summit views, rappelled the 5,000 feet and ate our late dinner (or very early breakfast), it was light enough to not need the headlamp. Watching the sun rise from our campsite would be magical, but second sleepless night in a row knocked me on my back. When the sun woke us up at 11am, my feet were still buzzing from the front pointing marathon. But eager to take a shower, share the news with my mom and to celebrate our little victory with a giant steak, I put the boots on and begun hiking.

For those hoping to climb this route in the future, bring tat and leaver nuts/pins to beef up the anchors. The majority of the anchors on the way down looked like sh#t and I am sure people will start getting killed as old pins, bolts and tat start failing.

Thanks for AAC for creating the Live Your Dream grant and adding 450$ for Brian and I to go to Chalten. :) If you are a AAC member and want some extra motivation to go somewhere cool, apply for it!

List of climbs we did while out in South America with ratings given to routes based on variations climbed or conditions encountered:

Medialuna - Rubio y Azul (IV 5.11)
Fitz Roy - Supercanaleta (V M6 WI4)
Cerro Torre - West Face (V WI5 M6-7) - *to the base of the last pitch - epic bail in a whiteout. 29 hour day, Gnar, 2 hours of rest, hike all the way out to town in rain and 100 mph wind gusts. Full value.
Cerro Solo (dayhike)
Domo Blanco - Superdomo (III-IV WI4 M6)
Domo Blanco (from Piedra Negra) - North Ridge * bailed about an hour below the summit due to avalanche danger on one of the slopes
Aguja Standartd (from Chalten) - Exocet (WI4 M5, Waterfall Flow 4) - to the top of the second chimney pitch
Ag. Guilliamet (dayhike) - Amy Couloir (vertical shrund step and AI3 M4)
Ag. De L'S - Austriaca (III 5.10a)
Ag. Rafael Juarez (IV-V, 7a+ or 5.12a C1)

Photos from Fitz Roy and a few other routes:

Credit: Vitaliy M.

S[reading ashes of my friend Ed Lau from one of the most scenic summits in Patagonia - Domo Blanco. With the line of Supercanaleta obvious in the tallest peak in the background. Thin prominent ice gully with rock wall above it to the top. Some of Ed's ashes made it there too. :)

One of the nicest days of the season...the drive in.

Chalten in morning glory


Woot Woot Woot!


Look who came to play!

Morning of the first "weather window." Over a foot of new snow. Was supposed to be a centimeter.

So we went here...not bad. But far from Piedra Negra.

Going back to the mountains

Garrett walking on the glacier

Mountains not super welcoming

Medialuna is the spire on the right, Cerro Torre up above

Fun climbing on Rubio y Azul (IV 5.11)

These cracks had a thin layer of clear waterice on the ice. Jamming was exciting.


Brian on top

Some guys climbing the route as we are rappeling.

Fitz is the big thing on the left.

A bit of rest on Fitz.

Some easier climbing higher up.

Garrett crushing

Brian crushing.

One would usually see Cerro Torre here.

Garett and fat red dot (me) on top.

Hike out to do some photography.

Fitz Roy is a cool peak, psyched we had enough energy, just enough ok weather and stupidity to try it. And thanks to my friends and partners, can't wish for a better team.

Next up.

  Trip Report Views: 2,838
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is an annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

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Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
  Jul 14, 2017 - 10:26pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Monica, CA
  Jul 14, 2017 - 10:31pm PT
F-ing A. Well done V! If a picture is worth a thousand words, you got yourself a million word novel. Makes me want to book a flight tonight.

  Jul 14, 2017 - 11:36pm PT
You deliver!!


some eastside hovel
  Jul 15, 2017 - 01:52am PT
Excellent!! And yup... What a great place.

Trad climber
Washington DC
  Jul 15, 2017 - 06:13am PT

Mountain climber
  Jul 15, 2017 - 06:34am PT
Wow! Very nice!!!

Thank you, Vitaliy

Trad climber
No. Tahoe
  Jul 15, 2017 - 06:34am PT
World class stuff. Nice job!

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2017 - 07:03am PT

  Jul 15, 2017 - 07:04am PT

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 15, 2017 - 07:15am PT
Thanks Vitaliy, ST has become especially drab lately and your beautiful pictures are a Godsend.
The picture of El Chalten was interesting....urban sprawl par excellence! I well remember the days when there were zero structures there. Most likely I'll never go back to the area.
Also loved the picture showing Pier Georgio, Cerro Pollone and Torrecito Tito Carassco. Not too many people go back there.

Balcarce, Argentina
  Jul 15, 2017 - 07:52am PT
Cool Vitaliy! Pretty impressive that a couple of guys from Argentina, in their early 20s, "onsighted" that route alpine style back in 1965, no?
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jul 15, 2017 - 07:44am PT
Great report and pics!
Way to get after it V.

Big Wall climber
  Jul 15, 2017 - 08:10am PT
Frickin' sweet! Nice job and the photos are impressive.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jul 15, 2017 - 08:51am PT
The world is your oyster V. Very happy for you to have such cool adventures, and thankful you still think about sharing them with us.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jul 15, 2017 - 08:57am PT
Cool Vitaliy! Pretty impressive that a couple of guys from Argentina, in their early 20s, "onsighted" that route alpine style back in 1965, no?

They spent 3 days on it. If you have That many days on it, have dryish rock and pull on gear on hard parts most psyched people familiar with rock/ice/mountain climbing can get up it. Not talking down their accomplushment, simply saying to me it mames sense and im not that surprised their strong team made it. They were pretty damn good mountain climbers.

4 Corners Area
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:02am PT
Thanks for sharing. Thanks for the psyche . . .
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:04am PT
Thanks, Mr. V., and so very well done. Always love to follow along with our radness.

Ney Grant

Trad climber
Pollock Pines
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:45am PT
Spectacular photos Vitaliy. Beautiful. You and Brian are an inspiration for sure.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 15, 2017 - 10:29am PT
Just amazing,
Looks like a wonderful place.
Stewart Johnson

Mountain climber
lake forest
  Jul 15, 2017 - 10:44am PT

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:00am PT
Wow V! Way to get after it!
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:09am PT
Yay V!

Jingus Newroutaineer
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:10am PT
Strong work young man and congrats to the team! :)

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:48am PT
Great Writing and Story! Nice to read about such an awesome place and adventure in this day and age! Your writing and photos are making you one of the premier Climbers of this time in my book and I'm glad you live in Visalia of all places!! Thanks for Sharing...........
Mr. Rogers

The Land of Make-Believe
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:47am PT
Awesome photos.

How long were you down there for?
Burnin' Oil

Trad climber
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:52am PT
Beautiful. A+ on the photos. Well done.

Sport climber
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:55am PT

Awesome from
joe mckeown

Trad climber
santa cruz, cal
  Jul 15, 2017 - 02:21pm PT
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jul 15, 2017 - 02:51pm PT
Fantastico, HOMBRE!

Trad climber
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:00pm PT
Wow, excellent
Glad to hear Patagonia still lives up to its reputation
Great photos

Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:09pm PT
Looks cold.

Good thing it's nice and warm in the valley!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jul 15, 2017 - 09:49pm PT

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
  Jul 15, 2017 - 11:33pm PT
Nice! Garrett Reigan crushing it. Used to kick it with him in Ouray. Spent about a week camping in my portaledge in a tree in his back yard.

  Jul 16, 2017 - 08:58am PT
Love the photos V. You going back this year to finish off the Torre? I'm thinking about February again...
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Jul 16, 2017 - 09:17am PT
Nice, Vitaliy. Thanks for the write up.

Social climber
  Jul 16, 2017 - 10:42am PT
Bravo, to you all. Bravo!

Beautiful photographs!
Gregory Crouch

Social climber
Walnut Creek, California
  Jul 16, 2017 - 11:19am PT
Great report! Congrats on a successful trip. Those pics sure bring back some good memories!

Social climber
  Jul 16, 2017 - 02:21pm PT

Trad climber
  Jul 16, 2017 - 02:48pm PT
Holy sheep sh#t that's rowdy

  Jul 16, 2017 - 02:54pm PT
Glad to know some people are still full of fire and tearing it up.

Great work, V and partners. TFPU.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
  Jul 16, 2017 - 11:17pm PT
Dude! Your watermarks are DESTROYING your otherwise excellent photos!!!

Otherwise, great shots and well done.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jul 17, 2017 - 05:34am PT
WOW! V., you are Da Man. Always love your TRs and photos - truly great photos. thank you so much for taking the time to post this up and share your adventures.
The Lisa

Trad climber
Da Bronx, NY
  Jul 17, 2017 - 06:38am PT
I love the photos, so in-spire-ing :)
Congratulations on so many routes and a successful, safe trip.

  Jul 17, 2017 - 10:07am PT

  Jul 17, 2017 - 12:10pm PT
What a trip! Thanks for sharing the stoke.

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Jul 17, 2017 - 12:39pm PT
Rubio Y Azul (Jan 2008). Deb Castro following
Credit: mooch

bay area
  Jul 17, 2017 - 04:09pm PT

badass!!!! thanks a lot for sharing.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Jul 17, 2017 - 08:51pm PT
Thanks all!

Pete, I agree with you, I do not like watermarks on anything. But I'm also tired of seeing my images on random sites without permission or even any credit. So I'm watermarking. also gives you a link to a place where I post images I like the most. So not a bad idea overall. At least that's what I wanna do with own images. Do whatever you want with yours.

That's a sick shot mooch!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Jul 17, 2017 - 07:24pm PT
Great job.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Jul 18, 2017 - 08:15am PT

Oakland, CA
  Jul 18, 2017 - 09:53am PT
Beautiful, beautiful photographs. Several big cuts above the standard expedition photos that people bring back.

Thanks for sharing, compadre!

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Jul 18, 2017 - 10:05am PT
Thanks V! Stoked you had a full value trip!
Ag. Guilliamet (dayhike) - Amy Couloir (vertical shrund step and AI3 M4)

Hey V, were you able to summit or did you guys just do the couloir? Either way, a fun narrow couloir!!

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Jul 18, 2017 - 10:25am PT

Thanks for taking the time to share with us.


  Jul 18, 2017 - 10:42am PT
Awesome, Vitaliy!

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
  Jul 18, 2017 - 11:53am PT
V you are my hero my friend! Mostly for your photo taking ability;)
Really good work capturing some beauty down there, some absolutely stunning images.
Thanks for sharing, hope we get to climb at the Needes this fall. Rope gun me up Romantic Warrior!
Don Paul

Social climber
Washington DC
  Jul 18, 2017 - 06:19pm PT

Gym climber
  Jul 19, 2017 - 07:29am PT
Truly massive, Good energy!

You mention Fitz Roy, is that a summit photo of you two?

Trad climber
Westminster, CA
  Jul 19, 2017 - 01:05pm PT
Wow.... Just beautiful.... Good at ya'
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