Alex Honnold Climbs Big Routes in Patagonia

During a season with a number of difficult new routes added to the Torre group

February 24th, 2020 by | Posted in News, Profiles |

It was a late start to the Patagonia climbing season, but that didn’t stop some of the best climbers in the world from putting down some big lines.

Brette Harrington, Quentin Roberts and Horacio Gratton completed a route up the East Pillar of Torre Egger called Marc-André’s Visión. And then Belgian climbers Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll climbed a new route on Aguja Standhardt they called El Flechazo, an 850-metre 5.12b M3 WI5+.

Another big story of this season has been Alex Honnold’s climbs, one of which he did with Colin Haley and one that he made solo.

Honnold soloed Thaw’s Not Houlding Wright on Aguja de l’S at “5.10d or so,” he said. “The weather forecast was marginal – a chance of precipitation throughout the day, medium winds, chilly temps – but seemed ok to at least stroll into the mountains and see how things unfolded. It was mostly sunny (with rain) on the hike in (first pic), but after scrambling up the initial 2k ft buttress it started snowing pretty hard and the winds increased.

“But by then it seemed easier to finish the hard climbing and descend the East face of de l’S than to climb back down the buttress and walk back out the Torre Valley (which is always a laborious approach). So I wound up climbing very icy cracks in a very windy snow storm and made it to the top. Thankfully the descent was a lot more sheltered and I downclimbed the historic East Face down to the glacier and then back to the normal hiking trails.”

Honnold spent around 12 hours door to door and “something like 7.5k ft of vertical and 24 miles of hiking/jogging in and out.” The route was first climbed by Kevin Thaw, Leo Houlding and Cedar Wright. “Great route,” said Honnold, “when it’s not covered in ice.”

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About a week ago @alexhonnold repeated (without a rope, while covered in verglas!) a pretty legit 5.10 first ascent that I established with @leo_houlding and Kevin Thaw on De La Ess in Patagonia. This route has become something of a frequently repeated classic, as it is climbable in slightly more inclement weather than the surrounding peaks…and if Patagonia's weather is anything… it's inclement. Because we are extremely clever, we called the route "The Thaw's not Houlding Wright." The expedition that yielded this route was one of my first @thenorthface sponsored expeditions, and it was pretty surreal to be on a trip with Leo and Kevin, two legends of the sport. Our plan was to get the first true ascent of the Maestri route, but conditions didn't allow for that, and the route on De La Ess was something Kevin had scoped on a previous trip, and was a bit of a consolation prize. On the way back home, we layed over in Buenos Aires. We got in late to our hotel that night and Leo left his shoes out front of his room. In the morning his shoes were gone and so his only footwear for our evening shenanigans were his giant mountain boots. He looked pretty hilarious and yet strangely fashionable as as we headed out to a pub for a beer. As fate would have it, Kevin started chatting up a cute Argentinian girl… who is now his wife and the mother of his children! Life is crazy like that sometimes… you never know when it all can take an unexpected turn! Good Times!

A post shared by Cedar Wright (@cedarwright) on

Honnold then teamed up with Haley for a multi-day climb in the mountains. They made a traverse of Cerro Pollone, Cerro Piergiorgio and Domo Blanco. “Really though,” said Haley. “Cerro Pollone was an easy warm-up, Domo Blanco an easy cool-down, and traversing Piergiorgio was the bulk of the climbing.

“Piergiorgio is a serrated knife-edge of a mountain, with a precipitous big-wall on the west-side, and lower-angle but icier slopes on the east side. We never once donned the rock shoes that we brought, and we both ended the adventure with quite sore feet from the sustained front-pointing. Alex is very adaptable, and continues to make rapid progress in developing his alpine skill set.”

Despite the fame he gained from his free-solo of Freerider, which was featured in the Oscar-winning Free Solo, and long list of history-making climbs, Honnold continues to push it in the mountains.