Alpinist Kelly Cordes examines the dramatic history of Cerro Torre

By Matt Niswonger

Most California climbers are familiar with Cerro Torre, an iconic spire of rock in southern Patagonia. The spire is part of the massif depicted on the logo for one of the most well respected brands in America – you guessed it, California-based Patagonia clothing.

Besides being one of the most spectacular looking and dangerous mountains on earth, Cerro Torre has been shrouded in controversy for over fifty years, and is the subject of the most infamous lie in climbing history.  In his new book The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre (published by Patagonia), Colorado based alpinist Kelly Cordes puts together a fantastically researched presentation of the entire sordid history – starting with the fraudulent first ascent by Cesare Maestri.

In 1959 Maestri claimed that an avalanche swept his climbing partner Toni …