Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2010/02/19

Las Tres Torres 2nd Accent Kearney/Knight

I had reached a point in which I was finished. I didn’t care about climbing the Central any more. My motivation was gone and I was thinking I would change my ticket and head back to Yosemite, where I could actually climb, instead of just carrying heavy backpacks up rocky talus slopes and wadding through snowfield up to my chest. The season had been brutal. I was exhausted mentally, and physically my body hurt more then ever before. My left knee had taken some serious abuse and felt like it was going to give out on me at any moment and my back was destroyed. Sebastian and I decided we were going to go to town. We carried everything out except the summit kit and ran to town. It had been a long two and a half months and I was a hundred percent convinced that we where done. Patagonia is a strange place it forces you to dig deep inside yourself and discover what you are really made of. It exposes all your weaknesses. Weakness is painful causing you to become very humble, recognizing the mortality of your body. While in town we checked the weather and discovered that on February 15th and 16th there was going to be the first weather window of the season. I shuttered at the thought of hiking back up the Silence Valley. Patagonia does not wait for you to be siked. When a weather window comes it is time to go whether you are ready or not. Sebastian is a very unique individual, very driven and motivated for the mountains. He told me ¨we have one last chance, lets make this dream come true. ¨ I knew he was right. If we were going to climb this mountain, now was the time. On the 13th of February we dug out a snow cave in high in the silence valley. Going in alpine style, we only brought three days of food, bivi sacs, one small stove and the climbing gear.

On February 14th we woke up at 3am and started packing for the wall. We packed all our gear and arrived at the base of the route at 7am in freezing temperatures. At the Condor Col, to our surprise we found Nico and Antonio, two Chilean climbers from Santiago.

They had planned to climb the South Tower but after accessing the conditions they realized that the South was not going to go that day because of the ice and snow that had accumulated on the first half of the route. They asked Sebastian and I if it would be cool to climb the Kearney/Knight? The morning was beautiful. The night had been filled with stars and clear skies. You could see that the sky was clear to the southwest with no storms approaching. If every there was a day to push the South Face of the Central Tower this was it. The mountains are about freedom and unity, and for us it was a no brainer question. Of course they could join the adventure. More body’s meant more warmth and a greater chance of survival.

We started up the mountain in two separate teams until we reached the slower A2 sections of climbing. The first morning was really cold. The Kearney/Knight route does not get any sun. We were climbing in climbing shoes with frozen toes and fingers. Every once in a wile the leader would have to stop and shake the circulation back into the extremities. From the belay you could hear the screams of pain in the silence of the early morning as the fingers and toes of the leader would fill with blood again causing a sharp stinging pain.

Finally at 9pm we reached the sun on the upper ridge. Antonio and I had been swapping leads and on the last hard pitch he yelled up to me to ¨fix the rope and keep climbing.¨

I knew that there was only a little light left and that temperatures were above freezing. I quickly unroped and free-soloed the rest of the route to the summit. From the summit you could see the vast expanse of the Patagonia ice cap on one side and the wild Patagonia planes on the other. After a quick look at the horizon I returned to the team, down climbing the last six hundred feet of the south face. When I reached the team it was almost dark and the sun was setting. We had a quick discussion and decided that we were going traverse the top of the tower through the night and rappel the Bonington route on the north ridge. It was going to be faster and safer, because the rappel anchors were already established. I took the lead again, and thru the night we navigated to the summit, reaching the top at 11pm. It was an icy cold pitch-black night and we knew the night to come was going to be a cold one. We traversed the top of the Central Tower and found the rappel anchors on the other side. It was impossible to see anything. At one point Sebastian rappelled off the east face into the wrong valley and was hanging from the end of the line spinning in space. He jugged back up the rope and we re established our position on the rappel route. All through the night we rappelled and huddled together in a dog pile. We were all shivering and convulsing violently. Finally the sun came up and the first rays of sunshine came across the sky instantly worming my sole and spirit. I will never forget the feeling of relief that overcame me when we hit a two-bolt anchor in the sun and I could see down to Col Beich. Our escape from the inaccessible mountain was near.

On the other side of the Col I could see my friends Tadao and Timmy working there way up the Monzino route on the North Tower. We had done it. In all the push was thirty-six hours and by far one of the most intense adventures of my life. I want to thank Montbell, Asolo, Lowe Alpine, Brunton, and Haber Vision for their sponsorship of this expedition. Also, I want to thank Erratic Rock. They have helped me more then anyone over the past three years on my quest for alpine summits. For me climbing is my religion and these experiences in the mountains are very powerful. Summits are only a representation of mastery in the art in which I have chosen to dedicate my life. Climbing is a method, or the capsule in which I have chosen to live by in order to learn about the ultimate gift life.


  1. Walker,

    Glad to hear you were able to accomplish so much. You have been on my mind a great deal these past two weeks. Your words written about your adventures are amazing. I take my hat off to you for your combined mental and physical tenacity.

    Get some rest and enjou a break.



    • Thank you very much. I look forward to doing another trip when I get back if you need a guide.

  2. Amazing Walker!!! Congrats!!! you did it. Are you going to try the vertical W next year? Can’t wait to hear from you.

  3. word. nice work dude. now you can shave.

  4. Walker, congratulations on your most amazing accomplishment. Thanks for the great descriptions of your pain, struggles and triumphs. Keep growing and sharing, and travel safely home.

  5. nice one walker!! totally stoked for you and seb – the amount of time you guys spent in the park is amazing and i’m so happy it paid off for you! wish i could have been there to bring you guys more chocolate! 🙂

  6. Willy!!! This is an awesome story that brings me to chills. I am in awe of your adventures and your will to go for your dreams! Keep climbing, we will be sending you love, warmth, and encouragement.
    much love my dear friend,

  7. Wow! Transcendent excellence; sublime wonder! A parent could not be more pleased.

  8. Congratulations Walker, Nico and Antonio!!

    I think you get the deepnes spirit of the patagonian climbing!…the ral conection with th wildness of the climb in Paine.

    This ascent, more than technichal it is historical!!


  9. If only more than 17 people would hear about this..

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