One of the world’s greatest climbing problems appears to have been solved by Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk, who yesterday ascended the Compressor Route on Patagonia’s Cerro Torre by “fair means,” according to alpinist Colin Haley, who witnessed the historic climb.

Haley wrote on his Facebook page:

BIG NEWS: Although Jorge and I unfortunately fluffed this weather window, today we got to watch history being made through a Canon G12 zoom lens at Norwegos: Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk made the first fair-means ascent of the SE Ridge of Cerro Torre. Although I’m not 100% sure about the details, I think they took about 13 hours to the summit from a bivy at the shoulder, which is amazingly fast considering the terrain. The speed with which they navigated virgin ground on the upper headwall is certainly testament to Hayden’s great skills on rock. Bravo! They might be in the mountains several more days (more good weather coming), but I’m sure we’ll hear the details soon!

Kennedy and Kruk apparently climbed the southeast ridge without using any of the 450 bolts left by Cesare Maestri in 1970 when he put up the Compressor Route, one of the climbing world’s most controversial. In 1959, Maestri claimed to have put up the first ascent of Cerro Torre with partner Tony Egger, but Egger died on the route and Maestri’s assertions were dismissed as false. He returned to Patagonia in 1970 with a gas-powered compressor in tow, placed a Home Depot’s worth of bolts on the face, and then claimed the summit, though he stopped short of the top, saying that the rime-ice mushroom covering the rock wasn’t part of the mountain. He descended leaving the compressor secured 100 meters from the summit.

The first undisputed ascent of Cerro Torre came in 1974, followed in 1979 by the first ascent of the Compressor Route to the top of the peak. Two years ago, the route was the site of more controversy when Austrian climber David Lama’s crew placed an additional 60 bolts while making a Red Bull-funded movie about his attempted on the storied peak – a sad irony because Lama was attempting to make the route’s first free ascent.


Photo by SN#1

Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.