Drone Spots Body on Cerro Torre, No Hope for Corrado Pesce

The Italian mountaineer Corrado Pesce “can no longer be alive” on Cerro Torre, says Carolina Codo, head of Argentina’s El Chaltén Alpine Rescue Centre.

“Today, we were able to zoom in on the images of a drone flown near ​​the accident. Pesce’s body can be seen. It slid 50 metres below the platform where he spent the night with an Argentine companion. Without adequate protection, death from hypothermia occurs within two hours,” said Codo.

Cerro Torre. Photo: Roger Schaeli


The avalanche hit during a rest break

An avalanche of ice and rocks struck Pesce and his companion, local guide Tomas Aguilo, on the east face of Cerro Torre around 3 am last Friday. It happened on a rest break during their descent, after the pair had opened a new route on the north face.

Aguilo suffered several fractures and a collapsed lung. Pesce’s fractures were even worse and included a fractured pelvis and possibly a broken spine. He could not move.

After the avalanche hit, Aguilo was lucky to find their small InReach device in the snow. Still, it took him about three hours before he managed to text for help. Pesce stayed in a small rocky shelter known as the English box.

Aguilo descended as far as he could, and the next day rescuers found him. They wrapped him in a thermal blanket and helped him down, dragging the stretcher over the snow and carrying him over the rocky sections. Around 9 am on Saturday, the mountaineers reached the Argentinian Army helicopter, which took Aguilo to the Calafate Hospital. He was conscious but in shock. Aguilo’s collarbone and rib fractures had caused his left lung to collapse. Doctors placed a drainage catheter, and his condition is now stable.

Tomas Aguilo on the rescue helicopter on the way to the hospital. Photo: Local television


A remote and inaccessible location

Rescuers tried to search for Corrado Pesce, but Pesce lay in a remote and inaccessible location. The weather worsened yesterday and made both ground and helicopter rescue impossible. “It is a very technical place to get to,” local sources explained.

There was talk of mountaineers traveling from France and Italy to look for him, but they would only be recovering his body now.

Corrado Pesce and Tomas Aguilo are two elite mountaineers and certified mountain guides. Together, in 2016, they carried out the first repetition in 29 years of Psycho Vertical at the Egger Tower, together with Roli Striemitzer, Iñaki Coussirat, and Carlitos Molina.

Corrado Pesce was 41 years old. Born in Italy, he moved to Chamonix at 19 and began guiding in 2009. Pesce had a long career in the Alps, in Patagonia, and even in the Himalaya, where he repeated the Impossible Star  route on Bhagirathi III, with Martin Elias, Sebastien Coret, and Damien Tomasi.

Also with Martin Elias, Pesce climbed the Directe de l’Amitie (2014) and the Rolling Stones of the Grandes Jorasses (2015). He and Manu Cordova climbed the Aguja Mermoz and the Torre Egger. In March 2021, Pesce and Will Sim combined a repeat of Voie des Papas with the remains of the Bonatti (Southwest) pillar of the Petit Dru, in the Mont Blanc massif. The pillar was mostly destroyed in a 2005 rockfall.

Corrado Pesce’s sister said a final goodbye to her brother yesterday on Facebook.

Corrado Pesce observing the West Face of the Petit Dru. Photo: Corrado Pesce


An earlier avalanche fatality in Patagonia

This marks the second avalanche fatality in that region this month. On January 6, German climber Robert Grasegger died in a slide on Aguja Guillaumet, in Patagonia’s Fitz Roy range. Rescuers managed to save his partner, Anna Truntschnig, and took her to the hospital with serious injuries. Days later, rescuers managed to recover Grasegger’s body by carrying it on a stretcher over rugged and dangerous ground.

German climber Robert Grasegger died on Aguja Guillaumet three weeks ago in an avalanche. Photo: Clarin