well, gotta say this global warming thing sure is fun down here. i have not been down for three years, but got in on some fun this year.
on jan 13 and 14, my wife, heather baer, local climber ivo kusanovic, and myself, steve schneider, climbed the south tower of paine. for heather, she is the first woman to summit all 3 of the towers of paine. big kudos for her.for ivo, he was the first local climber, from punta arenas, to summit all 3 towers. and although i had climbed the tower on my solo traverse of the massif 12 years earlier, i was able to free climb the route this time with no falls.
we were thwarted at the start when our gear stash attached to two fixed lines from a previous attempt blew UP the wall over 200 feet. since our harnesses were in that bag, retreival took some hours. this slow up meant that we were faced with an open bivy four pitches from the top. with our chilean partner retreated from a false route finding, i turned and asked heather ¨how bad do you want it¨, explaining that we would have to open bivy where we were. she agreed, so did ivo, and the shiverfest began. we waited all night for the sun, which eventually came and warmed us, only for a whiteout on the summit. retreat was difficult, with ropes getting stuck, we lost one completely, and rain and wind making it an adventure in itself.
arriving back in became after a 49 hour push, the santiago chileans let us in on the latest weather report. it was the best report i had ever seen for patagonia. heather, who was more than ready for a trip to town and a shower, was easily convinced to stay. we hired a personal porter on the spot, rested for three days, and then made an all free ascent of adrenalina vertical via the pennings 70 meter chimney variation. with only one rope, we were hopelessly committed to our plan of tagging the higher north tower and going down the monzino. we made 3 raps into the notch between the north tower summits, climbed 3 pitches to the summit gendarme, and at 1AM in the morning climbed the 5.8 summit gendarme. we rapped through the night, 17 in all, arriving at the base of the wall, where out porter enzo, who had made an open bivy waiting for us, schelped our gear down to base for a 36 hour push. it was like a seasons worth of climbing in a week!
of note is that with the two summits of the north tower, and the neighboring granite massif of peinetta actually make 5 summits of the towers of paine, not 3, and i believe heather and i are
the first two people to climb all five towers of paine.
we cleared all our stuff out of the park, being so satisfied that we didn´t want to climb in the park anymore. we just enjoyed a trek to the end of the world, a 5 day grueling backpack with heavy tidal restrictions, to cabo froward, the most southerly continental point in the world outside of antartica.
our chilean friends from santiago, besides using some old euro tricks with hot knives(no, i cannot do a third round), also sent, summiting the cental tower and south tower at the same time we did the north. for sebastian and cristobal, they were the 5th and 6th chileans to complete the tower trifecta, and the first to do it in a season. kudos
and as for amy and miles on the north tower, well...they came down and did the first complete ascent of the east face of the north tower, a face that has repelled all efforts, including strong slovenian and chilean teams. nice effort for the patagonian virgins, along with some epic stories of rockfall. 15 days on the face, a great effort.
"and as for amy and miles on the north tower, well...they came down and did the first complete ascent of the east face of the north tower, a face that has repelled all efforts, including strong slovenian and chilean teams. nice effort for the patagonian virgins, along with some epic stories of rockfall. 15 days on the face, a great effort. "
Amen Steve. Amy and Myles went down there with pure stoke and solid Sierra FA experience (especially winter routes) and knocked out a killer first effort. Given, they had a great weather window but anyone who knows them knows they also have the talent, drive, patience and the energy to get it done.
As an added note we did the Torres del Paine Circuit as a family over Christmas since my two kids are both graduating from High School this spring. Considering what has been going-on in Argentine Patagonia this season I was surprised how few climbers seem to be active in Torres del Paine Park considering the vast amount of rock present.
Was a great walk and would advise doing the entire Circuit if you go rather the just the W.
Mission aka Thom Engelbach just arrived yesterday for a month long adventure with our friends, Liz Donley(her 1st trip!) and Cory Fleagle (his 2nd). He said it was super windy, but is looking to hike in tomorrow to Guillamette/Mermoz for some shake-down cruise routes.