Fitz Roy Afanasieff

Patagonia 2024

Bericht von Matteo de Zaiacomo (Go Vertical Athlet)

Patagonia is a land of goodbye and not goodbye. After our adventure on the east face of Cerro Torre in January 2022 and the accident during the descent that cost Korra Pesce his life, I felt something definitively break inside me. A latent fear and an awareness of how fate has often played an important role. I loved Cerro Torre for giving me, together with my teammates Matteo Della Bordella and David Bacci, the most incredible climb I could have ever imagined. But at the same time my feelings about that mountain were complicated. I had said goodbye to Patagonia and in my heart also to a certain type of climb. A long back injury that lasted all of 2023 had completely distanced me from the ambition of climbing certain mountains. As if it were something from my past, like a closed parenthesis. But I wanted to see these granite towers again to feel their energy again and maybe start healing my feelings for them. I planned a quick trip to Patagonia without any clear plan in mind, just to stay away from walls like those of Cerro Torre or Fitz Roy.


During the summer I climbed with Chiara Gusmeroli on the walls of Badile. Chiara is from Valtellina and has an uncommon enthusiasm, and a boundless love for the mountains at home, as well as being an excellent mountaineer! One of those mountaineers far from common destinations, who don’t need to look at photos on Instagram to get ideas, all she needs is an old Bonacossa guide and with her imagination she can do everything else. She was the perfect companion to restart this journey to move with newfound confidence in the mountains, but with each climb the burden of the injury and my fear never left me truly calm.

I started talking to her about how wonderful it would be to get to the top of Fitz Roy. So leaving for Patagonia represented a big challenge for me. Fitz Roy has always been a huge dream, the history of mountaineering which has seen the best interpreters of every historical period compete on its walls has always created a unique charm in me. I planned this trip by listening and reading the stories and adventures of other mountaineers to have a general vision of what I could expect up there. We planned our training and experiences in the mountains based on this so that they could be useful to us. Chiara gathered so much information even before departure that in a certain way we were able to get an extremely realistic idea of ​​what awaited us along the possible routes we could climb. It was important to have all the relevant information but honestly there was a part of me that didn’t accept it. I felt like I was canceling out a good part of the adventure which is actually what I’m looking for when I get on a plane and fly to the other side of the world. That’s actually what I’m looking for when I go to the mountains in general, not knowing what the next pitch will be like, studying the line through binoculars and not reading it in a guidebook.

El chalten is a beautiful place! The whole mountaineering community meets up every winter, it’s great for me to draw inspiration from the great mountaineers you meet on the street, having shared the days with old and new friends has made everything even more fun. I thank all the people who shared this period with me. And my parents for once again teaching me to live my passion by relying only on my own strength. After all, Silvano and Mariella are the ones who have climbed more vertical meters during this season than any other climber in El Chalten. One route at a time on the walls of the valley floor.


Chiara had already been in el Chalten for a week, it hadn’t been a week of good weather and I was still in the Engadine working and I knew I wasn’t missing any windows. He had attempted to climb the Cerro, only failing in the attempt, there was too much snow, this detail did not leave me at ease with our plans. I had understood that the only route that would be available was the Afanasieff, I had already understood months before that I would actually end up there but after a few days the evidence of the conditions confirmed my predictions.

I arrived in el Chalten at 6pm and the next morning we had to leave for the approach, Chiara had organized everything impeccably before my arrival, all I had to do was pack my backpack and go to sleep for a few hours. I had some doubts about the timing on the wall and I wasn’t totally sure which of the 3 possible bivouacs in the first half we would be able to reach. I hoped we weren’t too slow that we had to stop at the first but I didn’t imagine we would be so fast as to reach the third. The approach is long but not at all complicated, the climbing in the first half is always simple and alternates climbing sections with long sections of free pitches. We take turns in command and in the late afternoon we arrive at the last bivouac pitch. We are a little tired from getting up early and quickly go to sleep to recover important energy for the following day.


We start climbing again the next day on a beautiful slab, about 10 pitches of extraordinary slab and crack climbing, a route within a route which in itself would be worth a visit to Patagonia, but in our case it is only a short portion of the immense wall that we have decided to climb. With the exception of the first pitch, where I probably missed the line, the remaining ones are easy and pleasant to climb, I forget I’m there and I enjoy every movement despite the weight of the backpack. We continue along a complicated section of the wall, alternating pitches with crampons, pitches in climbing shoes and then again pitches. I like the roped feeling I have with Chiara, I think back to last summer’s climbs and the targeted training on different terrains that brought us here, we work wonderfully and continue to climb fast. After one last pitch we decide to continue all the way to the top. I’m fed up and decide it’s time to leave quickly. I underestimate the tiredness of my partner who suddenly feels the pressure of such a long climb, of being isolated and far from any type of rescue or help. She asks me to slow down the pace to move safely, I’m a little impatient but it’s a very rational request, let’s slow down and let her continue at the pace she wants up to the top.

A climb is done together but I thought she should be the one to reach the cumbre first. She deserved it more than me! I reach her and at the top we take some photos and hug. It is a moment free of all thoughts wrapped in a fiery sunset that only Patagonia can offer, absolute freedom! then everything immediately becomes turbulent again and we organize ourselves for the night and the thoughts of the descent become the first concern again.


The following morning we go down without any problem. Once again all the information recovered gives us an incredible advantage, I can throw the rappels 60 meters into the void, close my eyes and know that the next stop is 8 meters to the right. It’s nice to be like this but it’s almost too easy. It may seem stupid but I don’t feel the adventure like I didn’t really feel it on the climb, it’s a strange feeling that I can’t really understand. The only abseil I remember is the first because I did it by twisting a strap on a spike and I started to lower myself without being sure, it was obvious I was going in the right direction, but it was still more exciting than the others which turned out to be boring. Read the report until the next stop. But everything went well and that’s the important thing, even though we lost a rope and a half.

On the glacier I suddenly felt tiredness arriving with all its violence directly in my brain, a deafening headache accompanied the first hours of walking towards the valley. I have one regret linked to that moment. We had thought that it would also be interesting to climb Poicenot during this window but when we arrived on the glacier we were too tired, obviously satisfied and uncertain about the next day’s weather that we didn’t really consider completing our project. But with hindsight we would have had enough time and energy to complete this little concatenation.


It was my first time on Fitz Roy with the person who helped me overcome my back injury by treating me in the only way possible. Taking me to the mountains. It’s something special that I will carry in my heart forever, I really needed a climb like this, something simple but great, to start believing in myself and in bigger projects again I left El Chalten with a different feeling than the last time. Positive! The energy of the people in the town was a very strong embrace and made me feel at home. I can’t wait to go back!

Bergsteigen in Patagonien

Möchtest du Matteos Geschichte von seinem ersten Abenteuer in Patagonien lesen? Dann geht es hier zum zweiteiligen Magazinbeitrag in Deutsch:

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Publish date:
Mai 22, 2024

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