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Update: last updated on 10/10/2015.

Aguja Standhardt - East face

1. Exocet


500m WI5 5+

Jim Bridwell, Greg Smith, and Jay Smith (USA), 28-29/1/1988.

Description. A classic, albeit one with real climbing on it. A tricky first two pitches lead to an easy snow ramp and at the end of it a short lower leads to the base of a 5 pitch long ice encased chimney. The first of the four pitches is short and easy, reaching a ledge that provides safe cover for the belayer. The next four pitches are WI4 to WI5 depending on conditions. A short mixed pitch at the end of the chimney leads to the base of a first mushroom that is bypassed on the east side and gives access to the summit mushroom, which can be climbed from the east or north depending on conditions.

This route gets climbed often from the bergschrund to the top in less than 8 hours (up). A normal party should expect to need a long day for the round trip.

History. Sebastian de la Cruz (Argentina) and Pedro Lüthi (Switzerland) attempted it a few days before the first ascent. They retreat due to lack of equipment after climbing two of the four chimney pitches. It goes to them the merit of finding this route.

Bridwell, Smith, and Smith’s was the first ascent of the peak. In 1977 British Brian Hall and John Whittle had narrowly missed the first ascent when they retreated from the base of the summit mushroom. The route is named after the French made missiles that the Argentine Air Force so successfully used against the British Navy in the 1982 war.

Winter ascent. Austrians Tommy Bonapace and Toni Ponholzer the 2/9/1990. They made two bivies in the ledge at the base of the chimney, one during the ascent and one in the descent.

Solo ascent. In November of 2010 American Colin Haley soloed the route in twelve hours from Niponino. He self belayed in three pitches, the mixed pitch off the col, the 3rd chimney pitch and the slabby pitch in the summit ridge, and back-looped in the fourth pitch of the chimney. Haley was the first solo ascent of the peak. In April 1994, Austrian Tommy Bonapace had soloed to the end of the chimney, 3 easy pitches away from the top, but bad weather forced him to retreat. He climbed free solo, trailing a 100-meter rope behind him and stopping briefly at belays to smoke a cigarette and haul his pack. Second solo ascent: On September 24th, 2015, one day after the winter equinox, Marc-Andre Leclerc free-soloed Tomahawk and linked it with Exocet, which he also free-soloed. He reached the summit 12 hours after leaving Niponino.

Approach. Niponino to Col Standhardt. The climb to the Standhardt col will be part of the climb for many (65º). Beware that often there is dangerous snow wind loading right before the bergschrund and right below the col. There has been at least one accident due to this.

Descent. Via the same route to the base of the chimney, then down and skiers left to a big corner along which raps lead all the way to the bergschrund. The old rappel line, straight down from the base of the chimney, does not get used much anymore –falling debris and running water.

Bridwell. AAJ 1989 p. 57-65; Desnivel 45 p. 44-51; Vertical 32 p. 38; R+I magazine 32 p. 18-27; Lo Scarpone 1990/4 p. 6-7; Bridwell J. (1992) Climbing Adventures, ICS Books, Merrillville - IN, USA (p. 151-159).
Bonapace-Ponholzer. AAJ 1992 p. 90-94; Gipfelsturmer 1996 p. 14-21.

Photos (click to enlarge)

Torre Egger and Aguja Standhardt

southeast face

Torre Egger and Aguja Standhardt

south face

Aguja Standhardt east face


300m WI4 M6 6b+

Txema Egizabal and Xavi Ansa (Euskadi), 1987, were the first to climb those 300m; Kevin Thaw (UK) and Mark Synnott (USA), 1998, repeated this line to the juncture with Exocet from where they retreated (Exocet was established soon after Ansa and Egizabal's attempt); Robert Caspersen, Ole Lied and Trym Atle Sæland (Norway) 11/2013, climbed the line to the summit. 

Description. This variation provides an alternate start to Exocet. It climbs an obvious left facing corner that leads to the snowramps at the base of the Exocet chimney. This line is commonly used as the Exocet descent line. 

The climbing is reported to be excellent. There are several really good slab climbing sections and almost every pitch involves some mixed climbing, so don't be surprised if you keep your crampons on the entire time. That said, it is possible that late in the season or during a dry season, this climb might be done as a rock climb, climbing it entirely in rock shoes.

History. Although the name Exocet had a deeper meaning beyond the missile theme, the subject has stuck to the face. SCUD is the name of a Soviet missile. 

Integral ascent and free ascent. In 2013 Robert Caspersen, Ole Lied and Trym Atle Sæland climbed the route to the summit, doing the first integral ascent while onsight free climbing every pitch. They proposed naming the route "Desarmada", playing upon the already set theme of this section on Standhardt. By making the first ascent to the summit of this line they disarmed the earlier “attempt” named “Scud”. Making the climb free of aid underscore the disarming.

History and "new route concept" discussion. Egizabal and Ansa climbed the "unique portion" of this route when Aguja Standhardt was still a virgin summit, climbing virgin ground in the lower 300 meters to then join the British attempt line, climbing a further 300 meters to reach a point 150 meters from the summit in the upper south face. Synnot and Thaw climbed only the lower 300 meters before retreating, but they joined Exocet, which had been established to the summit soon after Ansa and Egizabal's attempt (it should be noted that Synott and Thaw did not know about Ansa and Egizabal's ascent). Although Synott and Thaw climbed no new ground, first ascent credit has gone to them. The reason for this is because in this area there is a long tradition of deeming a route complete if it joins an existing line, even if the climbers involved do not continue on to the summit. This long tradition dates back to the first ascent of Diedro del Diablo on Cerro Fitz Roy, likely the first climb in this area that was claimed as a new route having joined an existing line but not reaching an actual summit. This was followed by many other routes, including major climbs, some of the hardest in the area, routes such as: Cerro Torre's Cara Sur, Infinito Sud, What's love got to do with it, Chimichurri y Tortas Fritas, Historia Interminable, Royal Flush, etc. These climbs set an accepted pattern and in the late 1990s this was, for better or for worse, defined as the local standard. So as to underline the importance of ascents to the summit the concept of "Integral Ascent" was introduced (this happened within the context of reporting for High Magazine's Mountain Info section and the American Alpine Journal, with Christian Beckwith and Lindsay Griffin as editors and Rolando Garibotti as one of the key correspondents). 

Note that there is a long tradition in the Alps of considering a line that joins an existing route "a new route" even if the climbers that open it do not continue on to the summit. This is a less prevalent concept in North America where reaching the summit is considered an integral and important part of any ascent. Robert Caspersen believes that routes should be considered climbed only when they reach the summit. Dean Potter pointed out the same back in the late 1990s and Colin Haley, the most active climber in the area today, also agrees. Was it a mistake to accept this "joined-existing-line-no-summit-new-route-concept" as "valid"? Should this be revised? 

In the late 1990s there were several new route claims without summit that stretched the concept well beyond joining existing routes, with claims of joining phantom routes, claims to have reached geographical features that are ill defined or invented and even new route claims for climbs that stop in the middle of a wall. In this website, in many of these last cases the routes are not listed as new routes but as attempts. 

Approach. De Agostini to Niponino then up the valley.

Descent. Exocet.

Bibliography. Desnivel magazine 36 p. 4-10.

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Aguja StandhardtEast face 1. Exocet1.1 Scud 2. Chimenea Este 3. Tomahawk4. Extreme Emotions5. Motivaciones Mixtas6. Potter-Davis East and south face7. El Caracol West face8. Otra Vez North ridge9. Festerville West face - Punta Shanti10. Leonardo da VinciTraverseTravesia del Torre / Torre Traverse


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