2008: Together with five friends I’m sitting in a small hut in the Cochamo Valley of Chile. As I’m flipping through the pages of an old, wrinkled climbing magazine that has probably been laying there for ages, I come across a picture of the headwall of Cerro Torre. I had seen many photos of Cerro Torre before, I might even have seen that particular shot before, but now, for the first time, I also see a line. A logical line though this stunning headwall that seems free climbable to me. From this moment on, the vision of free climbing this wall keeps crossing my mind day after day.
2012: It’s my third consecutive year here in El Chalten, the village on the “end of the road”. It’s hot, the wind is calm and the sky is cloudless. Looking at Cerro Torre’s headwall, I see streaks of water that built up in the past days of good weather. I had never before seen the headwall in such perfect conditions, never before I was so confident about my free climbing goal on Cerro Torre.
Already last year I had made it to the summit together with Peter Ortner, a superb alpinist from eastern Tyrol. This time, I think to myself, could be the big year—again Peter is with me to support my free climbing goal. He’s in strong shape and so am I, weather and conditions seem perfect—we are ready to go!