This mission fell into the shadows of the other climbing that we had done during the season, but our attempt on the route was epic. This was the last route we climbed in the big mountains before we took a bus up to Frey in Bariloche, and then to Buenos Aires, where we flew back to the states.
Scott Bennett and I attempted to repeat the route Mate, Poro y Todo Lo Demas (5.11b 900m) on the North Pillar of Cerro Fitz Roy. The route name translates to: Mate (tea), Weed and Everything Else. "Everything Else" predicted the shenanigans that got thrown our way.
Without breaking stride, Scott and I successfully picked up a ride from town with the flick of a thumb. A 40 minute ride in the back of a pickup truck on a rough and windy road led to our 6 hour hike to base camp. We bivied below The North Pillar instead of at Piedras Negras to get a head start the next morning.
I managed to sleep for 2-3 hours, before I poked my head out of the tent to see low visibility due to a thick fog. My lightweight aluminum crampons chomped their way through hard snow as our 30 minute approach turned into 3 hours. As we reached the base of the North Pillar, Scott's swear words followed an unfortunate situation; a broken crampon.
Our plans of climbing Mate Poro in a single push were diminished to only summiting the North Pillar. Summiting Fitz Roy would require the use of crampons, and would be highly dangerous without them. Our nervousness cut through the thick fog, as we are aware of how dangerous the mountains are in bad weather.
Not being able to see further than a single pitch below or above us, we decided to bail. We had climbed over 1500 feet of the route in 8 hours, and decided that it was a safe decision to retreat.
Scott led the rappels, and we got back to the steep snow and ice that stood between us and the safety of our base camp. In order for Scott to descend safely, I chopped steps for him for over 3 hours. We were disappointed that we had failed to summit, but realized that we had an incredible season in the mountains.