Raising the BarFebruary 22nd, 2012
A lot of people have asked my opinion of the recent events on Cerro Torre. Here they are for any that are interested. Probably no surprises for those that know me.
Patagonia’s Cerro Torre, once considered a premier alpine climbing destination, has rapidly become one of the world’s premier cragging destinations. As the summits there become more and more accessible to more and more people, it has lost much of it’s fierce reputation. The recent actions of Jason Kruk and Hayden Kennedy, however, have helped to restore true alpinism to this beautiful mountain. By not only ascending the mountain’s Southeast Ridge by fair means but also, by removing many of the offensive and unnecessary bolts placed during the first attempt at climbing this route, and I stress the word attempt, they not only removed litter, but also made the summit of Cerro Torre much less accessible. They, and others have proven that Cerro Torre’s summit is not inaccessible, one only needs to serve the proper apprenticeship and develop a high level of competency and craftsmanship in alpinism prior to attempting an ascent. To stand on the summit of Cerro Torre is once again not just something one is entitled to, requiring only moderate climbing experience and good weather. You can no longer cheat to arrive on top of Cerro Torre; it must be earned!
No doubt, some have and will continue to cry foul of their actions, calling them elitists. And, elitists they are as should be anyone able to stand on top of Cerro Torre. It is a proud and distinguished peak; those capable of ascending it are truly among climbing’s elite. There is nothing wrong with that and the notion that, for some, it simply is beyond their abilities. This concept of inaccessibility seems to have been neglected and forgotten neglected recently. There are and truly should be some places on our planet that are inaccessible due to their remoteness and/or ruggedness. The means of ascent by which Jason and Hayden have altered was in no way an important climb in the world of alpinism. It was, however, quite controversial, and rightly so, since it was nothing more than cheating. Cheating is frowned upon in every other sport, why should it be any different in climbing, especially Alpinism? In that, and in light of the obvious nefarious original intent (to help cover up a lie), the actions of Jason and Hayden should be commended, not condemned as some have.
I, for one, commend and applaud them and encourage others in the climbing community to do the same. I also admit that I may not have the requisite skill to ascend the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre. I appreciate the tremendous effort and dedication to excellence that it would take to succeed at that endeavor.
Regardless of the country or region in which this beautiful and daunting mountain resides, it deserves better than what amounted to a glorified via ferratta by which to attain it’s magnificent summit. It deserves far better. I can only hope it inspires others to better themselves and better consider the means to the end which they seek.
Thank you Jason Kruk and Hayden Kennedy.
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA