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July 14, 2010 – Cerro Torre Controversy Exaggerated?

David Lama has recently become the alpine-climbing world's poster-boy for everything that's wrong with climbing, but new evidence suggests that many of the issues resulting in this controversy have been exaggerated.

David Lama has recently become the alpine-climbing world’s poster-boy for everything that’s wrong with climbing, but new evidence suggests that many of the issues resulting in this controversy have been exaggerated. Initial reports claimed that during his attempt to free climb the infamous Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, Lama and his team placed approximately 60 additional bolts on the route – a climb that’s already littered with 400 to 500 bolts. According to the reports, the additional bolts were to protect the difficult free climbing and allow a film crew to document the ascent. Reports also stated that Lama’s team left behind fixed ropes and trash after the unsuccessful ascent. These supposed events caused a furor among many climbers who called for a boycott of Lama’s main sponsor Red Bull and resulted in local ace Rolando Garibotti correctly commenting that several films had been made on Cerro Torre without the use of bolts and that not even the arch-mad bolter, Maestri himself, found bolts necessary where Lama’s party placed them.

New reports however, suggest that Lama’s questionable actions were exaggerated and the global alpine community’s condemnation too quick. Canadian and fellow Red Bull athlete Will Gadd has been reviewing the situation and has unearthed new facts suggesting that there were less than 30 bolts added – none on the actual route – rather than the 60 bolts initially mentioned. Gadd also reports that the fixed ropes and trash have been removed and only a single haulbag remains on the mountain. More details here.