Colin Haley Versus the Snail

Let me put this time of year in perspective. I’m not referring to the holiday season. This time of year is a little slow for me in the way of climbing news that typically interests me, and maybe you too. With Alaska and the Himalayas, it’s all about winter ascents on Denali, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter — which are few and far between.

Ordinarily, for those of us geographically limited to North America, the fun is typical winter fun — skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, skating, hockey (preferably outdoors) — is all we have. No breaking news from there.

So thank goodness for the Andes, Patagonia and Colin Haley’s progressive climbs! The summer season is on now down there and Haley, as usual, is seizing every moment he has.

Haley and Jorge Ackerman of Bariloche, Argentina, worked the “un-finished” route on the south face of Cerro Standhardt. It was originally attempted by a 1977 British team, but remains a line that hasn’t brought alpinists to the summit.

The photos on his report are quite nice (see link below) but my favorite part of what these guys did was improvise on their objective and still came away with a decent prize. These climbers intended to ascend the O’Neill-Martin route on Cerro Egger. However, conditions were poor; they planned on a rock route, but lingering winter conditions required crampons and tools. Slow advancement and limited supplies made the decision to abandon the attempt clear.

They shifted their energies and efforts on Standhardt. Needless to say, they finished the job on the 1977 south face route — now the Haley-Ackerman 2011 route! They named the completed route El Caracol, meaning the snail, both for the spiral pattern of the snail shell and their weaving route and also because of their slow pace due to some route finding challenges and errors.

So going forward this winter, we’ll be monitoring whether the Russians make a winter ascent in the Karakorum on K2, any projects in Denali National Park, and of course, the attempts in the southern hemisphere. If you hear anything interesting, leave me  comment or shoot me an email. I’ll do the same here.

Thanks again for dropping by. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following The Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook or Twitter. There you’ll get updates and news as I become aware of it. Happy reading and carpe climb ’em!

Source: “Cerro Standhardt, El Caracol” on December 6, 2011 on Skagit Alpinism, Colin Haley’s blog.


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