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Cerro Torre is one of the mountains of the Southern Patagonian Ice Fieldmarker in South America. It is located in a region which is disputed between Argentinamarker and Chilemarker, west of Cerro Chaltenmarker (also known as Fitz Roy). The peak is the highest in a four mountain chain: the other peaks are Torre Eggermarker (2,685 m), Punta Herron, and Cerro Stanhardt. The top of the mountain often has a mushroom of rime ice, formed by the constant strong winds, increasing the difficulty of reaching the actual summit.

First ascent

Cesare Maestri claimed in 1959 that he and Toni Egger had reached the summit and that Egger had been swept to his death by an avalanche while they were descending. Inconsistencies in Maestri's account, and the lack of bolts, pitons or fixed ropes on the route, has led most mountaineers to doubt Maestri's claim. In 2005, Ermanno Salvaterra, Rolando Garibotti and Alessandro Beltrami, after many attempts by world-class Alpinists, put up a confirmed route on the face that Maestri claimed to have climbed.

Maestri went back to climb again Cerro Torre in 1970 together with Ezio Alimonta, Daniele Angeli, Claudio Baldessarri, Carlo Claus e Pietro Vidi, trying a new route on the south-east face. With the aid of a gas-powered compressor drill, Maestri equipped 350 m of rock with bolts and got the the end of the rocky part of the mountain, just below the ice mushroom. Maestri claimed that "the mushroom is not part of the mountain". The compressor was left there, still tied to the last bolts, 100 m below the top. The route Maestri followed is now famous as the Compressor route and was climbed again and confirmed in 1979 by Jim Bridwell. Since the Compressor route doesn't get to the top of Cerro Torre, but only about 30 m below the top, it is not considered to be a full ascent of the mountain.

The first undisputed ascent was made by Daniele Chiappa, Mario Conti, Casimiro Ferrari, and Pino Negri in 1974.

In 1977, the first Alpine style ascent was completed by Dave Carman, John Bragg and Jay Wilson of the USA. They took a week to summit Cerro Torre, which had taken the Italian group two months to summit.

In January 2008, Rolando Garibotti and Colin Haley made the first complete traverse of the entire massif, climbing Aguja Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger and Cerro Torre together. They rate their route at Grade VI 5.11 A1 WI6 Mushroom Ice 6, with total vertical gain. This had been "one of the world's most iconic, unclimbed lines", first attempted by Ermanno Salvaterra.

In popular culture

Cerro Torre was featured in the 1991 film Scream of Stone, directed by Werner Herzog and starring Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Hans Kammerlander, and Donald Sutherland.

Jon Krakauer, in Into Thin Air, mentions the mountain as one of his earlier difficult ascents(1992): "I'd scaled a frightening, mile-high spike of vertical and overhanging granite called Cerro Torre; buffeted by hundred-knot winds, plastered with frangible atmospheric rime, it was once (though no longer) thought to be the world's hardest mountain".

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