Cerro Torre West Face ? First Solo Ascent

by Cedric Larcher On Tuesday December 9th, 2008, 44 year-old Swiss climber and mountain guide Walter Hungerbühler summited Cerro Torre, completing what is considered the first solo ascent of the Ferrari Route. This is reportedly the first clean solo ascent of Cerro Torre, without the use of the bolts of Cesare Maestri´s Compressor Route. On the steep pitches of the route Walter self-belayed, the rest he climbed ropeless. For his ascent Walter Hungerbühler set out from El Chalten on Sunday Dec 7th, approaching via Passo Marconi and the icecap. After the long walk in he reached the Circo de los Altares and the base of the West Face. He started the Ferrari route at 2pm on Dec 8th by climbing up to the bivy below The Helmet. There he met a team of four climbers from Argentina who were very happy to see him as they had forgotten to bring their stove.Walter loaned them his stove and before sunset self-belayed up the Helmet pitch, leaving a fixed rope for the next day. After a happy bivy-night with the Argentinians Walter set out for the summit at 5 am.He climbedthe mixed pitches leading to the headwall. On the two steep ice pitches of the headwall he self-belayed, abseiling after each lead and jumaring back up with his backpack. Above the headwall follows a spectacular pitch up a 30 meter long ice-tube. A few easier steps lead to the scary crux of the route. This was in excellent condition after the previous ascents by strong teams from various countries.Walter reached the summit at 13:50 in perfect and windless weather, shortly after a team of four French climbers. Curiously the French had taken a nude group picture on the summit. Due to the previous ascentsthe rappelswere in good condition.Having left his stove to the Argentinians, Walter was treated to dinner by the French at the bivy below the route. He reached the village of El Chalten after the long walk via Paso Marconi and a night at Piedra de Fraile on Dec 11th. Report by Michi Wyser and Cedric Larcher.