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South America, Argentine-Chilean Patagonia, Cuerno Norte del Paine, 1992

Cuerno Norte del Paine, 1992. On December 30 and 31,1992, Mike (Twid) Turner and I climbed an excellent new 21-pitch route on the northwest face of Cuerno Norte del Paine above the Valle del Francés. After failing to make new routes and climbing the normal route on the Torre Norte del Paine, we turned to the sheer northwest face of the Cuerno Norte. On the northwest arête, cracks seemed to lead up into stange holes and then into chimneys before reaching the summit shale. We made three unsuccessful attempts. The first reached the foot of the face and the second ascended 200 meters of easy climbing, followed by four pitches of increasing difficulty. The third ended on a day when the wind blew me off my stance and Twid dropped all the small wires and was threatened by condors. We left our two ropes fixed on the lower two pitches. After bad weather, on December 30 when the wind dropped and the clouds cleared, we headed up. Despite the sun, the previously climbed pitches seemed hard. Immaculate cracks in perfect granite led to higher cracks with a minimum of aid and one short pendulum. As the sun dropped low, we diagonaled to a perfect bivouac cave, which inspired the name we gave the route of “Caveman.” Under still clear morning skies, we began easier pitches through the holes to a large ledge. The wall steepened and we climbed two thin cracks and a massive, overhanging chimney to the hardest yet, a continuously overhanging corner. A few more pitches and then the friable shale summit plateau to the top.

Louise Thomas, North Wales, UK