Fitz Roy - East face
4. Pilar Este
1200m 65˚ 6a A3
Casimiro Ferrari and Vittorio Meles (Italy), 23/2/1976.
Description. This long and elegant line follows steep crack systems and dihedrals up the east pillar, and astonishingly is still unrepeated. No detailed technical information about the climbing other than the route line is available. It has two starts.
History. This line had been attempted by many parties before Ferrari and Meles’ success, the first was by a large French team in 1968 composed by Bernard Amy, Joël Coqueugniot, François Guillot, Jacques Desautel, Claude Duvillier, Vincent Bourgès, Jacques Mambré, Pierre Vidailhet and Jacques Kelle, who managed to climb 500 meters (“Maintenant que notre échec est certain, chacun de nous, en France, va peut-être se retrouver seul ...” Bernard Amy).
After that French attempt it became a coveted objective. In the 1971/72 season a seven man expedition from Rovereto (I) attempted it. It was led by Armando Aste and included Mariano Frizzera, Angelo Miorandi, Pippo Frasson, Franco Solina, Sergio Martini and Graziano Mafei. This team was the first to climb the big dihedral (“il grande libro aperto”) slightly right of the line originally attempted by the French. This expedition from Rovereto was followed by an expedition from Monza (Italy) in 1973.
In early 1974 a Swiss team lead by Toni Holdener (died in the Calanques) and Hans Peter Kasper (died in the Pilier d’Angle) and with Ernst and Andrea Scherrer, and Robert Wenger as support team, climbed to within 200 meters of the summit, almost at the end of the difficulties, but where forced to desist by continuous bad weather. Much of the credit for the first ascent goes to them.
Two years later, using many of the fixed ropes the Swiss team left in place Ferrari and Meles completed the route. Theirs was a big “Ragni Di Lecco” expedition that included Amabile Valsecchi, Gian Luigi Lanfranchi, Floriano Castelnuovo, Guerrino Cariboni, Giovanni Arrigoni, Giacomo Pattarini, Franco Baravalle and Giani Stefanon. Of the two alternate starts to the route, Ferrari and Meles used the one further east (right), following the line first climbed by the Rovereto expedition. Just as on Cerro Torre’s west face it was Ferrari's persistence that lead to success. When some of the members of the expedition decided to abandon the attempt, Ferrari and Meles pushed on, and reached the summit after six days on the wall. Not far from the summit Ferrari took a big fall that sent a few of his teeth rattling down the face, but this to such a “hardman” was but a minor inconvenience…
In February of 2011, Belgians Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva repeated and free climbed the lower third of the route to access the obvious snow ledge and traverse along this to the upper 2/3s of El Corazon. They found the lower part of El Corazon wet and hence their choice to climb the initial dihedral of the East Pillar. From the end of the obvious dihedral they attempted to continue straight, climbing an impressive splitter only to have it dead end in a slab after a pitch and a half. After backtracking they followed the original line a few more pitches to the snow ledge. They found copious amounts of equipment, including long cable ladders that make climbing through "cumbersome" (cable cutters are necessary to remove them). Nico and Sean completed their ascent climbing and following each pitch free and onsight, without jumaring, finding difficulties to 7b. See El Corazon for more details.
Approach. Laguna de los Tres to Paso Superior to Glaciar Piedras Blancas Superior.
French attempt: La Montagne et Alpinisme 69 p.314-322
Rovereto attempt: Mountain 21 p. 7; Rivista della Montagna 47 p.246; Bolletino SAT 1971/4 p.143; Bolletino SAT 1972/1 p.13-14; Bolletino SAT 1972/2 p.52-56; CAI-AIM 1972/2 p.854-855; Aste A. (1975) Pilastri del Cielo, Reverito, Trento, p.240-279; Aste A. (1988) Cuore di roccia, Manfrini Editori, Calliano (TN) p.196-214.
Swiss attempt: Mountain 37 p. 11; Mountain 38 p. 32-33.
Italian ascent: Lo Scarpone 1976/6 p. 1, p. 6-7; AAJ 1977, 230-231.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Fitz Roy southeast face
Fitz Roy southeast face