In January Colin Haley and Alex Honnold completed the 1st repeat of the Torre Traverse in record time
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On January 31, 2016, La Sportiva ambassadors Colin Haley and Alex Honnold completed the first repeat of the Torre Traverse in Patagonia in a record time of 20 hours and 40 minutes. This north-to-south traverse enchains Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger and Cerro Torre.
Colin Haley and Rolando Garibotti completed the Torre Traverse in 2008 which took four days to complete. Colin and Alex started timing at Col Standhardt and stopped timing after the summit of Cerro Torre. If you consider the approach and descent, their total time from and back to camp was about 32 hours.
What was on the rack?
CH: For the Torre Traverse we had a double set of cams to a BD 1.0, then a single 2.0 and a single 3.0. We carried seven ice screws, a small selection of stoppers, and I think about six pitons. We never ended up using any pitons, but they are always good security on big, steep mountains in case something goes wrong and you need to rappel unknown terrain.
Did you plan for a speed attempt? Or did it just happen?
CH: For both the Torre Traverse and the Wave Effect Direct, we planned specifically for single-push climbs with no bivy gear. For me this is the most important part - simply to leave behind the bivy gear and enjoy the luxury of climbing with relatively lightweight packs. However, on both of these climbs we certainly were trying to move fast, partly because that is simply necessary to get up and down these climbs safely without bivy gear, but also for the challenge to see how quickly we could go.
AH: We definitely planned both of our climbs as "speed attempts". You can't exactly climb things like that spur of the moment. We put a lot of thought into strategy and the gear we'd need - we definitely didn't want to cary anything extra. Even before we hiked into the mountains we already had a plan for what we'd climb and how - that's what dictated how much food and equipment we carried in.
How are your climbing styles similar? How are they different?
CH: I feel that we have a similar approach and mindset. We both like to move fast, we both like to minimize the equipment carried and simplify the tactics used. The big difference is not our style, but our area of expertise. I'm much stronger than Alex on the climbing done in crampons - the ice and mixed - but on pure rock Alex is much, much stronger than I am.
AH: I think our styles are similar enough, it's just our mediums that are very different. Colin is an amazing ice and mixed climber, I'm much more of a rock climber. But we're both good enough at the opposite medium when we're on toprope. . . But I think we're both fairly comfortable soloing and running things out in order to move efficiently over big amounts of terrain.
Was if fun? Or was it a suffer-fest?
CH: Both of these climbs were classic Type 2 fun. That is, in the moment it was mostly just intense, stressful, and challenging, but looking back afterwards, these were two of the most awesome days of climbing I've ever had.
AH: I would say it was more fun than sufferfest-y, though there was certainly an unpleasant component to it all. On the Torre traverse I got super wet and cold on the North Face of Cerro Torre, which was pretty unpleasant. And The Wave Effect certainly had its share of unpleasant wide climbing. But that's part of the appeal of climbing things in a day - it was all over soon enough. We never had to suffer too much.
Was there a cruxy time or was it pretty smooth sailing?
CH: A cruxy time on the Torre Traverse for me was leading the last pitch of Cerro Torre in relatively bad conditions, because it was quite slushy. On the final bulge I would've normally been relieved to be finally on firm ice rather than rime, but after about 7,000 ft. of climbing earlier in the day, I was terrified to find my lock-off strength rapidly failing me, and the moves becoming desperate and scary as a result. I think that a cruxy time for both of us on the Wave Effect was climbing Il Bastardo on Aguja de la Silla. We made the first free ascent, and it turned out to be pretty full-on climbing, very steep and burly. It was cruxy for Alex because he was massively runout and climbing with the heavier pack. It was cruxy for me because even though I was following and had the lighter pack, 5.11 off-width with a heavy pack is still pretty damn hard for me!
AH: Like I said, the north face of Cerro Torre was by far the least pleasant part of both climbs to me. But there were certainly a lot of other challenging moments. Even just little things like accidentally climbing the wrong summit spire on de la Silla at first and then having to lower to tag the other. It only cost me 10 or 15 minutes so it's not exactly "cruxy", but all the little things like that add up. Ice in cracks, wide cracks that don't take gear, all those kinds of things just contribute to the challenge. . . But in the grand scheme of things it all went according to plan.
Describe the trip in 5 words.
CH: Radical. Exciting. Learning. Tiring. Memorable.
AH: ”A pleasant stroll through mountains"
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Colin Haley is a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team.
Alex Honnold is a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team.
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