For anyone who loves mountains, Patagonia is a must. Its improbably thorny massifs are some of the most iconic visages in the world. They attract the world’s best climbers, but there are plenty of classic routes for moderate climbers, too.
“In Patagonia, I would recommend the area around Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy,” Lama says. “It’s one of the most beautiful places to go to and there is lots of alpine climbing there. It’s not only beautiful for a climber but also for people who just want to hike around and do some trekking.”
Whether you are climbing Aguja Guillaumet, a needle of sheer rock and ice, or backpacking through Los Glaciares National Park, the effect of being in a vast, prehistoric wilderness is the same: awe. Amid these glaciers, wind-seared highlands, and serrated rock towers, it’s impossible to ignore the humbling awareness of one’s own profound smallness.
Fitz Roy Expediciones guides climbing and trekking trips in Patagonia.
Austrian climber David Lama was the youngest person to conquer an 8b+ route. He is also a junior world champion, a two-time winner of the European Youth Cup, and the 2008 IFSC World Cup champion in lead climbing and bouldering. But he gathered the most headlines for his historic ascent of the 3,600-foot Southeast Ridge of Patagonia’s infamous Cerro Torre in 2012. Called the Compressor Route, it had repelled many other climbers—and had been the center of a controversy over drilling bolts into rock faces. In 2013, Lama is attempting first ascents in Pakistan, Austria, and China.
David Lama's Gear Pick: Mammut Rock Rider Helmet
Climbing requires a lot of gear, but even before you leave the ground, you need to protect your noggin. “I really like to have lightweight helmets,” says Lama. “They might not last as long as the hardshell ones but for all the climbing and the kind of climbing I do, being light and being able to move fast is really important.”