Patagonia veteran Colin Haley, 38, has made the first solo winter ascent of the stunning Supercanaleta on Fitz Roy in Patagonia. The objective had been on his mind for nearly a decade. Climbing such lines in winter is considered extremely dangerous due to complicated technical cruxes, changing weather, short days, big objective hazards and isolation.
After his ascent, he said, “It was a very intense experience that leveraged the total skillset I have built up over the past 22 years of climbing and alpinism. The climb and descent left me wasted physically, mentally, and psychologically. Being alone on the summit of Fitz Roy in winter, at night, felt very, very far away from everything.”
Supercanaleta climbs a 1,600-metre line up Fitz Roy’s west face – it was first climbed in 1965 by the Argentineans Carlos Comesaña and José Luis Fonrouge. It involves technical rock, ice and mixed climbing.
Haley is no stranger to the range and first climbed Supercanaleta in December 2007 with Canadian Maxime Turgeon (watch a video of Turgeon on Exocet during the same trip below). Supercanaleta was first soloed in 2002 by Dean Potter, a feat which Haley repeated in January 2009. In 2016, Haley and Andy Wyatt climbed Fitz Roy in 21 hours car-to-car, which is still considered fast.
Haley on Supercanaleta 2022
Haley stashed gear in the mountains earlier this month and made an attempt on Sept. 6, but a snowy forecast forced him to return to El Chalten. He then attempted on Sept. 12, but again bailed due to weather and a bent ice tool pick. After several sketchy rappels, he made it back to his tent and eventually town. He returned for a push on the 19th but felt tired, however Rolando Garibotti – the foremost Patagonia expert – suggested that he continue with his attempt.
Haley crossed the bergschrund at 7:00 a.m. and reached the upper southwest ridge by 3:45 p.m. By 8 p.m., he was above the difficulties and summited at 9:23. He then downclimbed to the 1,000 metres of rappels. He arrived at his tent at 5 a.m. “wasted physically, mentally, and psychologically” and then rested before heading to town on the 21st.
Haley wrote about the climb on his website here, where he said: There is no one pitch on the Supercanaleta that is extremely difficult or dangerous, but the length of the route, having to be in a hyper-focused state non-stop for 21.5 hours, and doing it all in the cold and solitude of winter made it a very intense experience. It is difficult for me to gauge or quantify how much more difficult it was than soloing the route in summer back in 2009. For sure it was a significant step up, even though in 2009 I had particularly bad conditions for summer, and even though this time I had, I think, pretty good conditions for winter, and certainly good weather. It is also difficult for me to gauge, at least in my still-tired state, where this ascent stands among my other climbing accomplishments, or how this ascent will be viewed by others. I often find the public reaction to various climbing accomplishments to not correlate very strongly with the actual difficulty of the climbing accomplishment. These days what seems to count is making movies rather than making difficult ascents. It doesn’t matter really. I know from the intensity of my experience that it was pretty darn badass, and I don’t need external affirmation to confirm that to me.
Haley has made the first solo ascents of a number of difficult mountains, including Aguja Standhardt, Punta Herron, and Torre Egger in Patagonia; and Mount Waddington, Mount Combatant, and Mount Asperity in B.C.’s Coast Range. Haley made the first solo ascents of the Infinite Spur on Mount Foraker and the North Buttress of Mount Hunter, both in the Alaska Range. For more climbs from Haley visit here and for more information on Fitz Roy climbing visit here.