On a freezing cold morning the last day of my twenty ninth year, we headed out at 3:30am to climb Clara De Luna/ Chiaro Di Luna. The weather window we though was so big had deteriorated in to a single cold day with snow predicted in the night.
Mikey and I had waffled all day on a plan, and as we fell asleep we decided on St Exupery. We arrived at the base around 7am after loitering to shoot photos of the spectacular pink Cerro Torre. The temps were so low that we wanted to slow ourselves down in hopes of a warm change. We waited in vain, and Mikey started up the black dike wearing gloves and the Ganda Guide’s instead of climbing shoes.
The first third of the route is steep and has perfectly splitter, laser cut cracks. We were slow and cold in this section. Unfortunately we could only go about 8 moves before having to stop and breath hot air on our hands, put them in our armpits and grimace to encourage them to thaw. The hours and hand cracks passed.
The sun hit us around noon, still only a third of the way up the route. Instantly we warmed, putting on climbing shoes and trading blocks. I raced up easier terrain under bright sky. I was having so much fun, laughing with the perfect climbing, until I blew it and got stuck up on some run out slab. Oops. That slowed us down a bit. But whatever.
We climbed beautiful cracks followed by a bunch of big loose platters stacked on the wall, to yet another splitter. A few pitches of fun chimney climbing led us to the blocky summit pitches, the light was dimming. We stood on top at 9:30pm, my first summit from the Torre valley, and the last summit of my 20’s!
It was cold and starting to snow, we rappelled through the night. At 1am I sung “happy birthday to me” and at 2am I had to prussic the ropes to un-stick the knot. They were stuck again on the next rap.
We were back at the tent at noon on my birthday. It might have been the longest round trip ascent of Clara De Luna ever. It had plenty of suffering, tons of hand jams, and was totally worth it. Best birthday climb ever!