Located in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina, 10,262-foot (3,127-meter) Cerro Torre’s sheer granite walls rise more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) from the glacier to a summit guarded by enormous mushrooms of air-puffed snow.
Because of its brutal steepness, violent weather, and lack of a clear line of ascent, many climbers had thought Cerro Torre unclimbable. That is, until January 31, 1959, when legendary Italian alpinist Cesare Maestri claimed that he and ace Austrian ice climber Toni Egger made the first ascent of the otherworldly spire. Maestri and Egger’s alleged ascent—just two men in four days to the summit during an era of massive sieges by large teams on less difficult peaks—boggled the collective mind of the climbing world. Many hailed it the greatest ascent of all time.