Considered by many the most beautiful and dramatic mountain in the world, Patagonia’s Cerro Torre draws the finest alpinists from around the globe. Esteemed mountaineer Reinhold Messner called it “a shriek turned to stone.”
But controversy has swirled around Cerro Torre since 1959, when Cesare Maestri claimed its first ascent. His climbing partner died on the descent, and generations of climbers attempting to retrace his route have found only contradictions to his claims. In 1970, obsessed with proving his success, Maestri used a gas-powered air compressor to hammer hundreds of bolts to be used as ladders into Cerro Torre’s flanks.
The Compressor Route became a highly contentious issue in the climbing world—and, in the decades that followed, it became the most popular route on the mountain. In 2012, when two young, idealistic climbers removed many of Maestri’s bolts, the controversy erupted anew.
This chronicle of hubris, heroism, controversies and epic journeys offers a glimpse into the human condition, and why some pursue extreme endeavors that at face value have no worth.
The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre by Kelly Cordes, is published by Patagonia and will be in stores Nov 11th.
Image courtesy Patagonia