In the days after turning 40, legendary Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll soloed the Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia. He climbed the 2014 line by Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold in reverse and called it the Moonwalk Traverse. Villanueva has been in Patagonia for a year, and lucked out with a 10-day weather window.
The Fitz Roy Traverse follows the skyline of Cerro Fitz Roy and its six nearby peaks with a vertical gain of 4,000 metres over the six-kilometre range. “Thank you all for the birthday wishes!” O’Driscoll wrote on social media. “To celebrate my birthday I had myself the SEVEN cakes, some with icing, and a couple of extra side dishes!!!!”
We asked him what the crux would be, and he said, “I don’t think there was one crux. Everything went really well. I think I was lucky with the conditions. Certainly when I saw the three core shots on my rope on the very first day I was convinced that I wasn’t going to get very far. The ice field on the summit of Fitz Roy with aluminum crampons, one ice axe and one ice screw was a little sketchy and scary.”
Top Patagonia climber Colin Haley, said, “Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll has just made the 2nd ascent of the Fitz Traverse (and the 1st ascent of the Reverse Fitz Traverse)… solo! There is no doubt that this is the most impressive solo ascent ever done in Patagonia, and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t simply the most impressive ascent ever done in Patagonia in general.”
It’s impossible to compare alpine routes, but the Moonwalk Traverse is certainly one of the greatest alpine climbs ever done, and the most incredible in Patagonia. It’s up there with the late Marc-Andre Leclerc’s solo ascent of Cerro Torre’s Corkscrew 5.10d A1 90 degrees, 1,300m. His Feb. 21, 2015, ascent was the seventh overall solo of Cerro Torre and was completed in wet and icy conditions. About Leclerc’s solo, Rolando Garibotti said, “A solo of this magnitude is probably only second to [Italian] Renato Casarotto’s (‘God with a mustache’) first ascent of Fitz Roy’s North Pillar 5.10d C1, 1,250m.”
With Nicolas Favresse, Oliver Favresse and Ben Ditto, O’Driscoll received a Piolet d’Or for a 2010 Greenland expedition. They climbed a number of big new routes. In 2014, they returned north and established 10 new routes while making the award-winning film Adventures of the Dodo.
Check out the topo below.