Colin Haley. A Patagonian Love Affair

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Sunrise on the South East ridge of Cerro Torre as Colin Haley leads the rappel down after a long day of traversing the range together with Alex Honnold – Photo Colin Haley, Alex Honnold

“I’m an old-school crusty alpinist”. Seattle-born Colin Haley greets us with a smile and the devil-may-care attitude, seasoned with sincere modesty, typical of most adventurers. In Chamonix at the Epic Tv shop, Colin illustrated his pivotal, impressive, brave ascents in Patagonia to an enthusiastic crowd. Thirteen seasons in this typically inhospitable territory mean your skin is bound to get thicker and thicker, and Colin’s motivation clearly grew stronger as his objectives came into focus.

Chief among them, the Torre Traverse in a day with Alex Honnold (31 January 2016) and his first solo ascent of Torre Egger (January 19). The latter, first climbed by Americans Jim Donini, John Bragg and Jay Wilson in 1976, is considered the most difficult and seldom-climbed peak of the Patagonian Torre Group.

What motivated him? What drove him to such a challenging exploit? “Finding the balance between motivation and keeping concentration levels high was sometimes tasking”, he admits. Apart from the technical difficulties of the climb itself, the mental aspect is not to be overlooked at all; one silly mistake, such as dropping your rucksack or, God forbid, one rope, and you certainly shuffle off this mortal coil.

Colin is not new to climbing solo: he made the first solo ascent of Cerro Standhardt in 2010 and in 2012 he accomplished the first solo ascent of the north buttress of Mount Hunter in Alaska. Recently, he soloed the California Route on Fitz Roy… and the list could go on and on.

Together with Alex Honnold, the Torre Traverse in a day is most probably one of the most interesting exploits of the season: enchaining Cerro Standhardt, Punta Herron, Torre Egger and Cerro Torre in 32 hours “door to door” was an outstanding feature. The first Torre Traverse had been carried out by Colin together with Rolando Garibotti over 4 days in 2008, though this coveted project had been aspired to already twenty years ago by the Italians Ermanno Salvaterra, Andrea Sarchi, Maurizio Giarolli and Ezio Orlandi.

Efficiency, competence and a thorough knowledge of the terrain, Colin comfortable on mixed and iced terrain, and Alex excelling on rock, provided the perfect combination for a successful enterprise.

Colin’s interest in his Patagonian Dreams is still very much alive and kicking, though his other big passion, skiing, takes him to other corners of the world. Chamonix in primis. May the steepest alpine faces be next in line to the throne of Colin?

Stay tuned…

A full report in on Colin’s detailed blog

Colin Haley is sponsored by Patagonia, Petzl and La Sportiva

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Getting ready for the talk… – Photo L. Prosino

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Rope soloing the first pitch of Spigolo dei Bimbi – Photo Colin Haley

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On top of Torre Egger, solo! – Photo Colin Haley

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Alex Honnold leading the North Face of Cerro Torre – Photo Colin Haley/Alex Honnold

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The sequence outlining Colin reaching the top of Torre Egger along the Huber-Schnarf route – Photo Korra Pesce

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