Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

Cerro Torre Controversy

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Cerro Torre Controversy - © Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program

Cesare Maestri claimed in 1959 that he and Toni Egger had reached the summit and that Egger had been swept to his death by an avalanche while they were descending. Maestri declared that Egger had the camera with the pictures of the summit, but this camera was never found. Inconsistencies in Maestri’s account, and the lack of bolts, pitons or fixed ropes on the route, have led most mountaineers to doubt Maestri’s claim. In 2005, Ermanno Salvaterra, Rolando Garibotti and Alessandro Beltrami, after many attempts by world-class alpinists, put up a confirmed route on the face that Maestri claimed to have climbed. They did not find any evidence of previous climbing on the route described by Maestri and found the route significantly different from Maestri’s description. In 2015, Rolando Garibotti published evidence that the information provided by Maestri does not agree with respect to the alleged summit ascent. Instead, he and Egger were on the western flank of Perfil de Indio.

Maestri went back to Cerro Torre in 1970 with Ezio Alimonta, Daniele Angeli, Claudio Baldessarri, Carlo Claus and Pietro Vidi, trying a new route on the southeast face. With the aid of a gas-powered compressor drill, Maestri equipped 350 metres (1,150 ft) of rock with bolts and got to the end of the rocky part of the mountain, just below the ice mushroom. Maestri claimed that “the mushroom is not part of the mountain” and did not continue to the summit. The compressor was left, tied to the last bolts, 100 m (330 ft) below the top. Maestri was heavily criticized for the “unfair” methods he used to climb the mountain.

The route Maestri followed is now known as the Compressor route and was climbed to the summit in 1979 by Jim Bridwell and Steve Brewer. Most parties consider the ascent complete only if they summit the often-difficult ice-rime mushroom.

The first undisputed ascent was made in 1974 by the “Ragni di Lecco” climbers Daniele Chiappa, Mario Conti, Casimiro Ferrari, and Pino Negri. The controversies regarding Maestri’s claims are the focus of the 2014 book on Cerro Torre, The Tower, by Kelly Cordes.

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