Torres Del Paine, Various Ascents. Andy McAuley of Australia and Carsten Birckhahn of Germany climbed in a climbing area called Grupo la Paz, four spectacular towers without names or topos, four hours from Puerto Natales by boat on the shore of Canal Santa Maria. They made a first ascent on the east tower. (The Grupo La Paz, a.k.a. the Torres del Diablo, lies in the Canal Santa Maria. A parallel fjord, the Canal Las Montanas, holds the Cordillera Sarmiento, an article about which can be found in AAJ 1993, pp. 109-113. The two fjords are about an hour apart by boat.)
Alexandre Portela and Sergio Tartari from Brazil climbed the Bonington route on February 15, reaching the summit at 4:30 p.m. The route took them 20 hours from bivouac to bivouac.
From February 8 to 17, Andres Stambuck and Jose Pedro Montt of Chile climbed the central summit of Paine Grande (3050 meters) and Punta Bariloche. Janus Golab, Jan Muskai Ryszard Pawlowski and Adam Potoczek of Poland climbed the North Tower via the Piola/Sprungli route on March 13, and went on to climb the Central Tower via the Bonington/Whillans route.
Claudio Retamal and Andres Labarca of Chile climbed a new route on the southwest face of Cuerno Principal. Junto a Vasquez (5.10d A2+, eight pitches) was climbed in one 17-hour push on March 18. They reported excellent rock quality. Their advanced camp was one hour from the wall and three hours from the Italian camp.
Erich Mueller and I from Chile climbed to the col between Mascara and Cuerno Norte via the west face (5.9+, 16 pitches to high point) in one 19-hour push from base camp in Valle del Frances on March 15. This is the beginning to an excellent climb on La Mascara or Cuerno Norte; for such a climb, be prepared for a night on the wall and a good rack of aid climbing gear. From here, the views of the Valle Bader and Frances are amazing. We also tried, on February 15, a new route on La Mascara’s west face, but after eight hard pitches the night arrived and our sleeping bags were so far away that we rappelled in a beautiful and clear night to cook spaghetti. The route is a nice project for speed climbers and looks like it would go at 5.10d A2 in 15 pitches, with excellent quality granite. The base camp is one and a half hours from the wall, with water, some boulders problem, no tents necessary and a beautiful view of the walls.
Number of days with good weather (in terms of climbing conditions) in Paine during the 1997-98 season: October: 5; November: 6; December: 4; January: 3; February: 20; March: 5.
Hernan Jofre, Amerindia Concept