On March 2, Italian climbers Matteo della Bordella and Luca Schiera completed one of the most sought after climbing routes in the entire world when the put up the first ascent of the West Face of Torre Egger in Patagonia. The jagged rock face, which stretches 2685 meters (8809 ft) into the air, required 30 pitches, 25 of which were complete new, to complete. The two climbers had to overcome a 1000 meters (3280 ft) vertical rock race on their way to the top, which was a culmination of more than three years of work to get there.
Earlier today I received a note from the climbers PR team at addidas outdoors sharing some photos and details from the expedition. What follows is an account from della Bordella of all of the hard work that went into completing this tough ascent, with the new route earning the moniker of “Notti Magiche” or Magic Nights.
Three years ago, at a round table in Lecco, the West face of Torre Egger was presented to me and Matteo Bernasconi “Berna” as possibly the last big wall of Patagonia still unclimbed. Climbing legends Mario Conti and Carlo Aldè* showed us the a few photos of the Egger West face and gave a little description of what we could find. This little information was enough to convince me and Berna to take on the challenge of opening the first route on this immaculate wall. With no experience of Patagonia I had no idea of what to expect, nevertheless I was super psyched for starting this new adventure.
During the winter 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 we tried our best to succeed on this wall, facing many extreme situations such as my fall on a belay which left both of us hanging on a single cam or the huge fall of ice and debris from the summit mushrooms that forced us to take some objective risks. We learned a lot about Patagonia, its mountains and its unpredictable weather and we also learned a lot about opening a new route on a big wall in such a remote place like this. We arrived at a high point just 30 meters below the Col de Lux which divides Punta Herron from Torre Egger and then decided to retreat due to the previously mentioned fall on the belay.
Just 30m from the submit little was missing to complete our route but still we had to go back in 2013 to properly finish the job. We thought of opening our team to a third person, in order to be lighter and safer on the wall. The first name who came to our minds was Luca Schiera (aged 22); a talented youngster from Lecco on his first extra-European experience.
After 35 days of staying in Chalten with mostly bad weather, Berna had to go back to Italy due to job commitments while Luca and I decide to give it a last try. Wednesday 20th of February we head to Circo los Altares and then to Filo Rosso where we pitch our tent and settle a small base camp. We wait for seven days through changeable weather for the right conditions to climb on the wall. Then finally on Thursday 28th February we start our final push.
The first day on the wall we partly re-climbed and partly jug on the old fixed ropes left from the previous year. We get to a point two pitches down from the highest point reached the previous year, where we spent a night bivying hanging on our harnesses. A truly magic night for Luca and me.
The following day, Friday 1st March, we opened four new pitches up to Col Giongo-Di Donà or Col Lux, following a different line from the one attempted last year. At 4pm we arrived at Col Lux where we melted some snow and prepared the bivy and finally took a little rest.
Saturday 2nd March was the summit day. We thought of opening an independent line to the top but in the end followed the Huber-Snarf route. At 11.20am, after a 1,000m long route, made up of thirty pitched (25 new independent ones and the last five shared with the Huber-Snarf route) we stood on the summit of Torre Egger. It is the moment I’ve desired and dreamt of for three long years. But we were aware that a long and complicate descent was expecting us. Sunday 3rd March we finally completed the descent and at 3.30pm we were back to our tent in Filo Rosso, bringing down all the fixed ropes we used.
We called the route “Notti Magiche” (magic nights) a name which ironically remembers the uncomfortable bivys but at the same time recall the magic Patagonian nights. The 2012 attempt which stopped 30 meters below the Col Lux, is truly an independent line, waiting to be finished and will remain with the original name of “Die Another Day”.
I want to remember that this route is the result of a big team effort and thus a team success. A team that goes beyond Berna, Luca and I and involves the whole Ragni group. Without the support and the trust of Ragni di Lecco and our sponsors, adidas outdoor, none of this would have been possible.
This is a pretty strong candidate for climb of the year and we’re only a few months in. The West Face has been one of the Holy Grails of rock climbing for some time and it is fantastic that someone was finally able to complete it. Congrats to Matteo, Luca and the entire team for a job well done.
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