Ever since Cesare Maestri claimed to ascend Patagonia's iconic Cerro Torre in 1959 with Toni Egger and again in 1970 via his controversial Compressor Route, climbers have been obsessed with the imposingly sheer peak.
Climber Jim Bridwell (lionized in the Yosemite big wall climbing film Valley Uprising) claimed that nobody could ever free climb Cerro Torre, just as Yosemite's Dawn Wall was once declared too difficult to ascend without aid. Enter David Lama, the son of an Austrian alpinist mother and a Nepalese Sherpa father, and his climbing partner Peter Ortner. The duo set out to do what many deemed impossible: free climb a route on Cerro Torres southeast face.
To many, the feat was unimaginable, and the peak shut down the climbers more than once. But watching Lama free climb Cerro Torre feels like destiny, and the achievement is an edge-of-your-seat thrill, as well as a climb for the history books.
- Thomas Dirnhofer