Having slept on it, I find myself more uncomfortable with the news that the upper sections of Maestri’s Compressor Route were chopped by Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk as they descended after making the first “fair means” ascent of Cerro Torre’s Southeast Ridge than I was last night, when I first heard the news and briefly posted about it.
First off, I’m a climber and a historian and I love Patagonia and I think I’ve got the chops to prove all those claims. I love the story of history — some of my first writings were the Goldline climbing stories that appeared in Rock & Ice in the mid-90s, and I’ve just finished writing a narrative non-fiction World War II flying story — ie, a history book — that I’ve been working on for the last eight YEARS.
I think all climbers can agree that Maestri’s Compressor Route is — or was — a world-renowned piece of climbing history, and I think all of us deplore the style and ethics of its first ascent.
However, I find myself lamenting its loss, and I’m hurt that members of my community have taken it away from me without giving me an opportunity to voice my opinion about whether or not it should stand. Without giving ANY of the rest of us that opportunity.
That route was our common possession, and now it’s gone. “The Compressor Route is no more,” as Rolando Garibotti posted last night.
But should we flatten the Pyramids because they were built with slave labor, and we deplore slavery? Should we plow under Auschwitz because of the horrible deeds and philosophies perpetrated within its walls? Obviously not.
In my mind, a great piece of history has been taken from us, and we are the poorer for its loss.
If The Compressor Route was to be removed, it should have been removed only after a long period of open and public debate in which all of us were given the opportunity to voice our opinions — and perhaps to cast votes. The manner of its recent removal is patently undemocratic, and of that, I do not approve.
We should have been afforded the opportunity to make the decision as a community.
Also, the last time I looked, Cerro Torre was entirely in Argentina. If such a massive change were to be made to such a famous route, on such a marvelous mountain, in such a wonderful country, surely the actual action should have been taken by the Argentine climbing community?
A mountain can certainly be desecrated; I’m not so sure one can be consecrated.
Cerro Torre’s titanic indifference is what has always amazed me most.
* * *
[EDIT 1/24/12: Here are some of my best photos from the Compressor Route]
Enduring Patagonia, the book I wrote about my Patagonian adventures (which features my adventures on the Compressor Route and on Cerro Torre’s West Face in winter):
Right Mate, Let’s Get On With It: about the incredible partnership between Andrew Lindblade and the late Athol Whimp, my favorite climbing article I’ve ever written, available on Amazon.com for $.99