Monthly Archives: December 2011

Off The Couch and onto Poincenot

Nearly three months ago while descending El Cap I took one false step, heard a pop, and fell to the ground clutching my ankle. I instantly knew I wasn’t going to be “walking it off.” Fast forward two months and a change of location to Smith Rocks, where Kate and I posted up for my recovery. After sitting around for so long I started to loose the plot and deemed it time to start climbing again. I gradually worked back into it, 5.8,5.9 and 5.10 the first day. 5.11 the second day. And then the real surprise came on the third day when I managed to climb Chain Reaction, one of the most classic 5.12c’s anywhere. Needless to say I was fairly happy with my progression though I knew Chain was a more of a monkey trick than a rock climb.

Fast forward another month and this time to El Chalten, Argentina, the small cozy town that lays at the foothills of the massive Fitzroy massif. I arrived early December with my sights set extremely low knowing that climbing a 35ft 4 bolt sport climb at Smith Rocks hardly got me ready for climbing in alpine. Or maybe it did? At least thats what I had to tell myself as a weather forecast started to appear that I knew I couldn’t miss out on.

Cerro Torre on the approach to the Torre Valley

Thankfully for me Jens Holsten and Joel Kauffman offered to take a gimp along with them (that would be me). What I lacked in fitness though I made up for with a good plan, which be might arguable looking back… But never the less they were sold and the bags were packed. Our plan, take a new steep and direct line up the 900m south face of Poincenot.


Like any alarm that goes off at 3am, this one came way to early for me. We took our time getting out of camp waiting for a faint illumination from the sum , wanting to avoid crossing the loose moraine by headlamp that guards the entrance to the Poincenot-Inominata couloir. Slowly we picked our way through huge loose boulders and up into the couloir that leads to the base of the massive and steep south face on Poincenot.

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