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Laura Tiefenthaler is successful in Patagonia

Laura Tiefenthaler is successful in Patagonia

Austrian alpine climber Laura Tiefenthaler makes the most of the short windows of good weather in Patagonia. At the beginning of the year, she and partner Tomas Bukowski climbed El Corazon on the east face of Fitz Roy in a 70-hour marathon. I recently repeated Potter-Davis on the North Face of Aguja Poincenot with Tad McCrea in a 35-hour installment.

When a short weather window was announced at the beginning of the year, Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski did not hesitate for long. Given the uncertain forecast, they decided to head to the eastern side of Cerro Chalten, from where withdrawal would be relatively easy. “We also chose this exposure in order to protect from the wind and find dry conditions,” says the mountain guide and alpine climber from Innsbruck.

The El Corazon route designed by Caspar Ochsner and Michal Petelka from 1992 passes through the great eastern face of Fitz Roy. Photo: Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski.
The El Corazón route (1250m 45˚ 6c A3 M) passes through the great eastern face of Fitz Roy Caspar Ochsner and Michal Pitelka From 1992. Photo: Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski.

This is without a doubt the biggest climb I've done in this area, and it was done in a window of poor weather.

Laura Tiefenthaler

An unexpected 72-hour marathon

The duo set off from Paso Superior at 6 a.m. After two hours they overcame Bergschrund, but had difficulty finding the entrance. “We saw the crack we were looking for, but we couldn't reach it.”

After three false starts, they finally found the correct line around 1pm and were able to start climbing. “I was happy and a little proud too when we completed twelve performances by 8pm that evening.”

She remembers that conditions at the bottom were good. “The cracks were partly wet, but never icy.” The bucket roof lives up to its name. “Thanks” for the cold shower, the woman from Innsbruck has shuddered at every position since.

Fortunately, I was almost dry again when we arrived at Biwi's place at 12:30am.

Laura Tiefenthaler

Complete team: Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski.Complete team: Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski.
Complete team: Laura Tiefenthaler and Thomas Bukowski.

They reached the summit at 3 a.m. and then started abseiling at the same time. “After a rope got stuck three times in the long overhanging landing points, we had to cut one of our ropes.”

At about seven o'clock in the evening they finally reached their camp in Paso Superior. The anticipation of food deposited there and a good night's sleep was immense. But it shouldn't come to that.

Our tent learned to fly and went and flew.

Laura Tiefenthaler

So they had no choice but to return to El Chalten amid strong winds and rain. Her “little trip” took a total of 70.5 hours. “Disaster fashion in its purest form,” sums up Laura Tiefenthaler. Despite these adventures, or perhaps because of them, she loves life here in Patagonia very much. “Just pure climbing.”

Following in the footsteps of Dean Potter and Stephanie Davis

In mid-January, the Innsbruck native set off on a new adventure, this time with Tad McCrea. This time Dean-Potter (400m 75˚ 7a C1) on the north face of Aguja Poincenot was on the programme.

Laura Tiefenthaler and Tad McCreaLaura Tiefenthaler and Tad McCrea
Laura Tiefenthaler with Tad McCrea repeats the demanding Dean Potter route on the north face of Poincenot.

Tiefenthaler and McCrea climbed the route opened by American climbing couple Dean Potter and Stephanie Davis in March 2001, in one go: 35 hours to El Chalten and back again.

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Credits: Cover image Laura Tiefenthaler