Written by Andrew Bisharat
RYAN NELSON AND CRYSTAL DAVIS-ROBBINS, both of Colorado, established a 3,300-foot new route on the unclimbed south face of La Aguja de L’S (7,660 feet), in the Fitz Roy range, Patagonia. They took 35 hours to establish The Art of War (V 5.12a A2), on the peak’s west side.
I just went down to Patagonia by myself, says Nelson, and luckily met up with Crystal, and she just happened to need a partner.
La Aguja de L’S is small from its east side, and can be climbed in four pitches. From the west side, however, the peak drops down over 3,000 feet to the glacier.
La Aguja de L’S boasts one of the steepest walls in the Fitz Roy Range, Patagonia.
The south face rises above you like a big wave, Nelson explains. The upper headwall is overhanging on every pitch.
Nelson and Davis-Robbins began their route a day late in the weather window, on February 11. The climbing began on a vertical buttress, which Nelson all but freed at 5.12a, except for one thin corner of A2. The route then kicks back, and the duo
traversed over to get beneath the imposing south face headwall.
Davis-Robbins began up the headwall, firing a burly offwidth at 5.12a. In the midst of surfing the giant headwall, the climbers were overcome by darkness. A storm blew in, and both were soaked. Rapping the overhanging face was nearly out of the question, so they continued upward, freeing and aiding their way to the top. They reached the summit in the early morning, and tried rapping the north ridge, battling high winds.
Crystal and I were literally lifted into the air and slammed down on our anchors, says Nelson. The duo walked into camp 35 hours after leaving, hungry and happy as little clams, says Nelson. This was his first climbing experience in Patagonia, while Davis-Robbins has climbed the North Pillar of Fitz Roy and made two other first ascents in the area. Nelson said Davis-Robbins thought this was her burliest Patagonia climb yet.
Crystal is a badass, says Nelson. She already is, and will continue to be, one of the most influential female climbers in Patagonia.
If this headline made you think you were going to read about the ethical war over Cerro Torre, and the resulting fisticuffs, you’ll just have to wait for the in-depth exclusive in our next issue!