American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, Torre Central de Paine, East Face, "Riders on the Storm" Route 1990-1991

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1992

Torre Central de Paine, East Face, “Riders on the Storm" Route 1990-1991. We climbed a new route on the central part of the east face of the Central Paine Tower. The wall is about 1300 meters high with excellent quality, vertical, compact granite. There were 36 pitches with difficulty up to 5.12d, five pitches of aid (A3 and one pendulum traverse). The route was done by five Germans: Norbert Bätz, Peter Dittrich, Bemd Arnold, Wolfgang Güllich and me. We arrived at Base Camp on December 5, 1990 at 600 meters on the east side of the Paine Towers. After a short reconnaissance of the north buttress, which we rejected because of rotten rock, we turned to the center of the east face. We placed a kind of Advance Base ¾ of an hour below the face. After a typically severe windstorm ripped our tents apart there, we gave the name of “Riders of the Storm” to the route after the popular song. On December 14, Güllich and Bätz climbed the first 150 meters on marvelous granite. Iced cracks and terrible weather slowed progress. Finally, the route was established to a bivouac site at the top of the buttress. On December 28 and 29,1990, Güllich, Dittrich and Bätz climbed the three pitches above the top of the buttress and into the crack system that led up the final wall to the summit. The next day, Arnold and I took over and pushed the route higher, including a poorly protected pendulum traverse. More bad weather ensued. Finally, the other trio made a spectacular, 25-meter, horizontal traverse beneath a giant roof with a 1000-meter drop below them. This took 5½ hours. They returned to Base after a 20-hour day. Bivouacs on the wall were unpleasant, but on January 23, Arnold and I climbed the fixed lines for two hours and continued up difficult terrain until the angle eased somewhat. More ice now clung to the rock. I led on the rock while Arnold went ahead on the ice sections with crampons and ice tools. Luckily, we were mostly in the lea from the wind. A difficult ice hose was overcome before we two reached the summit at ten P.M. We were back at the bivouac at midnight. At that time, Bätz had to leave because of a badly infected foot and professional obligations. We then had three totally unexpected days of lovely weather. On January 27, Giillich and Dittrich also stood on top. They bivouacked on the buttress top on the descent. The next day they then ascended again to climb free some of the pitches where we had been forced to use aid. Arnold and I climbed free a new route to the right of the original route on the buttress, where ice had forced us to use some aid. We met the other pair on the top of the buttress. They were delighted to have done, among other things, a 25-meter crack and the roof free.

Kurt Albert, Deutscher Alpenverein

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