In this short clip sponsored by Red Bull, Austrian climber David Lama makes a first free ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, Patagonia, a climb that is rife with controversy.
Cesare Maestri claimed to have made the first ascent in 1959 then returned in 1970 to lug a 300lb gas-powered compressor up the route, controversially drilling close to 400 bolts into the Southeast Ridge’s headwall, creating the infamous Compressor Route. The compressor is still anchored to the wall just shy of the actual summit.
Not only technically demanding but often un-climbable due to inclement weather, Cerro Torre is a coveted achievement for climbers. Some seasons, the iconic mountain won’t see a single ascent because of unstable weather conditions. Lama’s success came at the end of a three-year battle that saw his tactics and ethics evolve.
The source of scrutiny for his first attempt, the climber fell under heavy critical fire after his party added even more permanent protection to the rock in order to accomplish the climb. Owning this mistake, Lama returned in January, 2012 to use only existing protection and removable, clean protection pulling off one of the greatest feats in modern climbing history. Watch his accomplishment in the clip above.