First Alpine-Style Solo of Fitz Roy’s Goretta Pillar

Colin Haley returned to Patagonia this month to take on 3,405m Fitz Roy. A few days ago, he made what is likely the first alpine-style solo ascent of the Goretta Pillar. Today, he posted a short intro to his climb on social media, promising to share more later.

Italian inspiration

Haley explains that the Italian alpinist Renato Casarotto was his major inspiration.

“Among Casarotto’s many amazing climbing accomplishments was the first ascent of the north pillar of Fitz Roy,” he wrote. “Like many of his ascents, he made [it] solo. Named in honor of his wife, the Goretta Pillar is one of the most beautiful alpine rock climbs in the world.”

Self-belaying on the Goretta Pillar. Photo: Colin Haley


Haley mentions that despite the extensive use of fixed ropes on the first ascent, Casarotto’s 1979 climb was incredible. “For more than a decade, I have daydreamed about making a solo ascent of Cerro Chalten [Fitz Roy] by the Goretta Pillar.”

Warming climate forces route change

Haley prepared for this project over the summer in Chamonix, practicing rope-soloing techniques. Last week, he found a good weather window in which he could carry out the climb.

Because of the warming climate, access to the original Casarotto route seemed more difficult and dangerous, he wrote. So he opted for the Mate, Porro, and Todo lo Demás route. This was “somewhat more difficult and sustained, but with an easier, safer approach.”

Colin Haley on the route.

Photo: Colin Haley


Haley started up Fitz Roy on January 17 before 9 am, and reached the summit just after midnight on January 19. Usually, Haley climbs without bivouacs, but this climb required overnighting on the mountain.

“Except for the last 200m of easier terrain to the summit of Fitz Roy, I self-belayed about 97% of the roughly 1,200m route,” he wrote. “While I avoided the psychological intensity of free-soloing, the physical toll of so much self-belaying was massive, compounded by the large weight of equipment that I carried up the mountain by myself.”

Colin Haley's tent on Fitz Roy.

The climb required a night on the mountain. Photo: Colin Haley


This impressive climb comes just six days after Haley and Tad McCrea made what is possibly the second ascent of Torre Volonqui. There they topped out “accidentally with incredibly inefficient, exhausting tactics,” according to Haley.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.