Last Monday, Jason Kruk and Hayden Kennedy made the first fair-means ascent of the Compressor on Cerro Torre's southeast ridge, a controversial climb dominated by a massive, 400-bolt ladder up a blank face. On the way down, they removed most of the bolts, chopping hundreds on the headwall and the pitches below.
As word spread of Kennedy and Kruk's actions, the pair faced an immediate backlash. Police detained the two climbers and confiscated 102 bolts from them. A mob of irate locals showed up at their cabin in the nearby town of El Chaltén, papering the windows with posters bearing slogans like "Out of El Chaltén" and "Jason and Hayden Go Home!"
"We didn't expect all this, and we didn't expect that we were going to end up at the police station," Kennedy told El Chaltén's La Cachaña news site. "All the same, when we made the decision to chop the bolts, Jason and I had to be ready to face the consequences."
Predictably, the news has sparked a debate. On one side are climbers like Patagonia local Rolando Garibotti, who has called the route a "disfigurement" and praised its removal as a return to a more natural state for the mountain. On the other are those like author Gregory Crouch, who argued in a blog post that climbers should have had the opportunity to decide the route's future as a community. "In my mind, a great piece of history has been taken from us, and we are the poorer for its loss," he wrote.