Back in February of 2014, climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold completed what many thought was an impossible climb by linking up Cerro Fitz Roy and its surrounding peaks in southern Patagonia.
The route was dubbed the “Fitz Traverse” at is involves climbing Aguja Guillaumet, Aguja Mermoz, Cerro Fitz Roy, Aguja Poincenot, Aguja Rafael Juarez, Aguja Saint-Exupery and Aguja de l’S, all in one go. This once-Holy Grail of rock climbing hasn’t been repeated since, but a Spanish climber is about to give it a go.
Last week, Pedro Cifuentes set out for Patagonia, where he hopes to make the same climb as Caldwell and Honnold in solo fashion. Going in alpine style, and completely alone, Cifuentes estimates it will take him about 40-50 days to finish the traverse, which is considerably longer than his predecessors, who finished it in just 5 days.
But, having a partner makes a huge difference, and the Spaniard admits he isn’t up to climbing at the same level of speed that the two Americans can achieve. Instead, he’ll look to be self-sufficient and travel in alpine style, carrying a 90kg (198 pound) pack with him filled with his supplies, food, and gear.
In total, the distance he’ll travel will be a mere 5 km (3.1 miles), but it will also involve 4000 meters (13,123 ft) of rough vertical climbing to overcome. That climbing is where Cifuentes will slow down, as doing every pitch by himself will be time consuming and demanding.
This won’t be Pedro’s first go around with a significant rock climbing challenge. In 2013 he become the first person to solo all three Towers of Paine in succession in Patagonia as well. That expedition took 29 days to wrap up.
Later that year, he also attempted a solo climb on Nameless Tower in Pakistan, but was forced to retreat due to incredibly poor conditions.
Cifuentes admits that his solo attempt on the Fitz Traverse is a long-shot, but he enjoys the challenge and hopes that his skill, planning, and determination will help get him through. He says, “I’m not looking for summits, but for experiences.
It is not my first expedition, nor will it be the last. I do it for me, to enjoy, for the experiences, for what you see, for what you learn …. it is very difficult to convey what it means to face alone an escalation like this … every second is very intense, thousands spend Of things, you’re out of the world … The top is fine … but it’s not what I’m looking for. If so, there are easier ways to get it. “
Pedro is on his way to the start of the climb now and should get started shortly. Hopefully he’ll reach his goals in the mountains of Patagonia, but if not, perhaps he’ll at least get the experiences he’s looking for.
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