Like many of my fellow online denizens, I’ve watched with interest as the Cerro Torre drama unfolded over the last couple of weeks. I’m not an alpinist, and I’ll probably never go to climb in Patagonia, as I prefer trips to places where the weather is good for more than three days out of thirty. However, in order to help the rest of us non-alpinists understand what’s gone on down there, I present to you Cerro Torre for Dummies (and Non-Alpnists):
It all starts in 1970 when some Italian guy uses the mother of all power drills to force a line up the most beautiful mountain in the world. He fails to reach the top, and starts erasing his route on the way down, but his partners make him leave, supposedly because of weather, but there was probably a rockin’ party in El Chalten that night. This was the 70′s after all.
People leave the controversial route in place, because it’s much easier to get to the top using all the bolt ladders. Over time it becomes generally accepted, even though everyone knows it’s wrong, like porn, or watching American Idol.
Forty years later, two up and coming young alpinists make an ascent without using the hundreds of bolts, and decide it’s time to clean up the trash and restore the peak to its former glory, like removing graffiti from the side of a beautiful old building.
Armchair mountaineers descend with vigor upon the internet, tempers flaring on both sides of the argument. Many high profile alpinists support the bolt removal. The Italians go nuts. The French could care less. Many of the residents of El Chalten are upset, even though the peak has never been guided, and they, like us, will probably never climb it themselves.
Most of us sit back and watch the debate with little concern for the precedent it supposedly sets, because this kind of total disrespect for the mountains has never occurred anywhere else in the world, before or since.
Hopefully that clears things up for all of us non-elites, and we can now wait for next week’s internet drama to unfold, which will thankfully give us something to do in between checking our email and updating our Facebook.
PS If there’s anyone we should be pissed at, it’s Maestri’s partners for not letting him chop the rest of the route on the way down. Those party loving Italians! But then again, if it weren’t for the smoking hot Argentinian babes they were hoping to see in town that night, we’d never get to have these fun online debates, would we?