The Egger project - Up-Climbing

The Egger project

Matteo Della Bordella and Matteo Bernasconi, of the Ragni di Lecco group, have made a major attempt in January 2011, to the Torre Egger in Patagonia. In their plans, there was the unresolved problem of the dizzying West wall, attempted by many tams but never ascended.

The two members of “Ragni di Lecco”  have climbed the dangerous base of the mountain  and 8 pitches and finally surrendered to the continuous bad weather and poor conditions of the wall. Previously,  Ermanno Salvaterra and Adriano Cavallaro had arrived at roughly the same point.

Once back, the mountain guide Matteo Bernasconi sent us an interesting report on their  adventure, from which one can understand how difficult it is to move in light style in an environment like that of the western walls of the Group of Cerro Torre . Soon on line, stay tuned!

Source and Photos: Matteo Bernasconi – Ragni di Lecco

 PATAGONIA: THE EGGER PROJECT by the Ragni di Lecco (Lecco Spiders)
Here we are again, back from our latest trip to Patagonia, where our objective was to climb a new route on the west face of the Torre Egger.
There were three of us: Matteo “berna” Bernasconi, “Teo” Matteo Della Bordella, and myself. We set off from Milano/Linate on December 25, with 45 days in Patagonia to achieve our dream of climbing Torre Egger’s west face.
We flew first to Buenos Aires and then with an internal flight to El-Calafate, arriving at 1400 local time on December 26th. We bought food, gas and petrol for the stoves and in the evening caught the bus to El Chalten. On the 27th we hired 8 porters to help us transport all our gear to the Paso Marconi and do the last of the shopping. In total we had 230 kg of stuff to carry.
On the 28th December at 4.00 am Teo, I and the porters set off from El Chalten for Piedra del Fraile, from where we reached the Paso Marconi at 16.00. The porters went back to El Chalten and Teo and I were left with our 230 kg of gear to transport to the Circulo de Los Altares, to under the Filo Rosso. We pitched the tent and spent the night at the Paso Marconi.
December 29th, after a night of strong winds, the two of us tried to haul more than 100 kg of stuff on our sledge to the top of the Filo Rosso. The wind was too strong, we were being blown over, the sledge was too heavy, and the terrible wind blew us backwards. We left all the stuff at the Marconi and we went back to Plagitta, a safe spot to sleep in the tent 3 hours from the pass.
We spent 3 days, from 29 to 31 December, in Plagitta waiting for the very strong winds to subside, all alone and for 3 days 1 kg of pasta, 2 tins of food, 3 packets of cerealitas…we were very hungry!
On January 1st the weather was fine, warm and no wind. We set off at 4 am from Plagitta, we reach the pass and transported the first load, more than 100 kg, to Filo Rosso which we reached at 1600. We started to build the snow hole in which we’d pitch the tent, but at 10 pm, exhausted, we wriggle into our sleeping bags. The alarm sounded just 3 hours later, and at 2 am we set off again towards the Passo Marconi to collect the rest of our stuff. The remaining 100 kg we’d taken up to the Filo Rosso by early afternoon. 8 hours later, we’d finished building the snow hole. Our Base Camp under the face was ready.
January 3rd was warm and fine, but Teo and I decided to rest. We need to be fresh to go on the face, and we lazed around.
January 4th it rained.
January 5th the alarm sounded very early, and at 2 am we set off from the tent towards the face. We had all our gear and 200 m of static ropes; our sacks weighed a tonne. The ice was dangerous and time-consuming to cross, as was the basal cone to reach foot of the face.
The first 250 m of the basal cone required, due to the conditions, 2 mixed pitches of V°-VI°, then a 60° snow slope, to finally reach the foot of the rock. We climbed the first three pitches of the route, fixing ropes, but around 18.00 we started to descend because we had to fix ropes on the first 100m of the basal cone, before the snow slope. By 23.00 we were back at the tent, tired but happy with what we’d achieved. Teo had even climbed a pitch in rock shoes!
January 6th the weather was bad. The 7th was uncertain: bad then fine, but the meteo promised 3 days of fine weather. We prepared the remaining 200 m of static rope and food for 3 days.
We had seen that we could bivvy on the face, so we took our sleeping bags and stove.
At 3.00 am we set off from the tent, with fine but very cold weather. We climbed the fixed ropes to our high point. The weather was changing, with cloud building and still very cold. We climbed 5 pitches, then around 18.00 it started to snow a bit and the wind picked up. We started to descend and sort out the fixed ropes, abandoning the idea of bivvying on the face due to the intense cold and snow, and the ever-stronger wind. We didn’t have a sheltered spot and left our gear and food on the face. On the snow slope the storm started to really pick up, with strong winds and snow flurries, …”una lozza”, “mulch” as  Teo would say! t 23.00 we reach the snow hole with the storm raging.
It was January 9th, snow, outside the snow hole a blizzard …
The bad weather kept us trapped in the snow hole for the next 10 days. During this time I celebrated my birthday! The meteo remained bad, and we decided to go back to El-Chalten, to pick up more food, eat something decent and relax a bit. We left the camp and got back to El-Chalten that day, in 10 hours to cover the 45km to the town without loads.
The next two days were spent in the town, then we tried to return to the camp but we got no further than the  Rio Elettrico under driving rain, and we went back to El-Chalten. We spent another 2 days in the town, and then tried again. The wind that day was forecast to be very strong, but we were lucky, and we had strong winds for only the last couple of hours of the walk, with a bit of a storm. After 12 hours we arrived, exhausted, at the snow hole. It was half-destroyed. The tent was buried by the snow, and full of water, with all the things inside of it wet-through. We passed the night as best we could, and the next day as well it snowed, even though the forecast was good …eehh!
By now it was January 25, cloudy, we couldn’t see the face and it was very cold. We decided that if the weather was good the next day we’d sort out the camp and then go up onto the face. The meteo gave 4 good days, it had snowed the first of them, and so we’d already lost one day …
In the afternoon, the clouds disappeared to reveal the face totally encrusted with snow, and we realised that the expedition was finished …two avalanches coming down the route were the cue to not even try to climb there.
Our dream is merely postponed. Teo and I are already ready to go back, everything is organised, we just have to wait until the next season and hope for bel tiempo !esta es la Patagonia!
Our line was tried by Ermanno Salvaterra in 1997 with Adriano Cavallaro. Salvaterra climbed 250m in 7 pitches. We found his belays and we climbed 8 pitches. Thanks to Ermanno for all the information he gave us…!