The Compressor Route chopped!

That's me jumaring on Cerro Torre's headwall in a storm in 1996 -- right through the section that has just been chopped

The Supertopo thread just posted by Rolando Garibotti — a friend I much admire and treasure — clarifies the facts of Hayden Kennedy’s and Jason Kruk’s “fair means” ascent of Cerro Torre’s Southeast Ridge. They did make the climb without using any of Maestri’s bolts for progress, although they possibly might have used some of his belay bolts, and on the way down they “chopped” (ie, removed) the entire headwall, and at least one of the pitches below it. Rolo doesn’t seem to have posted an update yet on his website, although I’d imagine he soon will, and that will have additional information.

According to Rolo’s initial post, “The Compressor Route is no more.”

I’ve known for years Rolo has had it out for that route, since well before he published his American Alpine Journal article that so convincingly exposed Maestri’s 1959 first ascent story as a complete hoax, but I confess to having mixed feelings about the chopping. I’m sure I can get used to the idea, and the mountain is certainly closer to its original state than it was a few days ago, but on the other hand, it’s the end of an incredible story, and I think “the story” might be the thing I like most about climbing — whether mine or someone else’s.

Standing on top of Maestri’s Compressor is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’m a little saddened that opportunity isn’t in the world any longer.

(I’m actually fool enough to have been there twice.)

Climbing is such a fascinating theater of character.

Update: I’ve also just posted some more thoughts about this.



  1. Gregory,

    When I first started climbing in ’06 I was immediately captivated by the mountains and stories from Patagonia. In fact, your book was a major source of inspiration (and, btw, I identified with your early history at West Point, where I grew up). So inspired, my partner and I rallied, took two months, and climbed Torre Norte in Paine (Monzino and Taller del Sol) and Aguja de la S in ’08, with less than 2 years climbing experience.

    Since that beginning I always admired Cerro Torre as an aesthetically ideal mountain, but wrote off climbing it. There was a nagging feeling in that back of my mind that my story on CT could never be a part of the mountain’s history–mine could never rival the Maestri story.

    With the recent events on CT, I feel the mountain has new life. Now its history can continue.


    1. Dan, how great that EP helped inspire your own Patagonian peregrinations! That’s exactly what that thing was intended to do, on one hand. And on the other, crack open the real alpine world for people in the general public whose attention had been captured by Into Thin Air. I think I did better with the first audience then with the second. Clearly, the mountain’s story continues regardless… it just is. It doesn’t concern itself with us. Whether for good or ill, time will tell. But I fear we’ve just added another chapter to the “infinite folly of man” story that was writ there by Maestri.

  2. Wow!

    Mick, can you link us to the news? (I’m traveling today and can’t search for it.)

    Did he have the grace for finish his climb w/o destruction and clean up afterwards?)

    PS: is this Gary & Tnoy’s dad?

  3. “it’s the end of an incredible story”

    Not so!

    A week later the route gets free climbed by David Lama.

    It’s a beautiful climbing saga.

    All the best,


  4. I’m dismayed at these actions. For years, plenty of climbers have enjoyed the route in it’s previous state. Kennedy and Kruk have essentially forced the rest of the climbing community to adhere to their vision, ethics and boldness as well as erasing an esoteric relic of climbing history. It’s like going in to a room of crackhead midgets and taping pieces of crack to the ceiling, then chopping all of the chairs and ladders in the room on your way out. The midget crackhouse was fine how it was, because that’s what it was.
    -anon alpinist.

    1. Herb, I’m not sure I get the room crackhead midgets analogy, but I certainly agree with the first part of your comment.

      1. The tall guy (Kennedy and Kruk) walks into the midget crackhouse (Compressor Route) and starts taping crack to the ceiling then removing (chopping) all chairs and ladders (bolts) from the room, so that the midget crackheads (us) can’t smoke the crack (the route). The midgets are too short to reach the ceiling.

  5. Sounds like a massive display of ego by 2 punks. Michael Kennedy always had a holier then thou attitude, and its obvious he passed it on to his son.

    1. Joseph, I don’t agree with this sentiment at all. I’ve always been impressed by Michael’s attitude, which I’d describe as “quiet, competent, and thoughtful.” I’ve never met Hayden or Jason, or spoken to them, so I’m not about to start or jump into a flame war in which one of us strikes me as anonymous — Joesph Blow? Really?

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