Colin Haley and Dylan Johnson just completed a free ascent of the Red Pillar of Aguja Mermoz (450m 5.12a) in the Fitz Roy Massif. While this route had previously been bolted, the two decided to climb the route using only traditional protection.
"The route does have a lot of bolts immediately next to perfect cracks," Haley writes on his blog.
On Friday, February 8, the pair set out to do one last alpine climb before the end of Johnson's Patagonia trip. With a 4 a.m. start on Saturday, February 9, they hiked to the base of the Red Pillar (Pilar Rojo) and started free-climbing.
"In the end we both managed to free everything first try," Haley writes. "We reached the summit in the early evening, and despite two stuck rappels managed to re-cross the bergschrund just after dark. We slogged down the glacier, took a one-hour nap at Rio Blanco, and then hiked back to town - arriving at my apartment an hour and a half before Dylan's shuttle to the airport! A classic finish to a quick Patagonia hit!"
The Red Pillar was first climbed in 1999 Kurt Albert and Bernd Arnold of Germany, according to pataclimb.com. Albert and Arnold climbed the route by placing bolts and leaving fixed lines. However, Topher Donahue and Kennan Harvey of the U.S. actually had climbed the majority of the route in 1993 without placing any fixed gear, and were only forced to retreat when ice blocked their exit up the chimney at the finish.