American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chilean Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Central Tower of Paine, Macaroni-Porridge Junction

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Central Tower of Paine, Macaroni-Porridge Junction. Our team was composed of three members: Filip Šilhan, Marek Holecek and David Štastný. We left for Patagonia on January 26 with the aim of climbing one of the routes on the 1200-meter east face of the Central Tower of Paine as free as possible. We arrived at Campo Torres on January 31 in typical Patagonian weather. There was only one climbing team at the camp and two more in the Japanese Camp higher in the valley. Everybody was waiting for a bit more bearable weather. Within the next week we got our material to Advanced Base Camp beneath the towers. The weather improved quickly on February 7, so the next day we set out on our climb.

With our first experience of Patagonian weather, we put off our original plan of climbing the 1991 German route, Riders on the Storm. Instead, we started on the right side of the wall, mostly following the line of the 1974 South African route, where we found old fixed ropes, all of them severely cut. For the first three pitches we shared the belays of this line, then moved slightly to the left. After having climbed 12 pitches, we got to a dead end. We had to decide whether to turn back and continue more to the right or to make a pendulum to the left and join the 1992 British route, El Regalo de Mwoma. We chose the second option and found ourselves in a thin crack about 50 meters above an obvious spire. The terrible weather stopped us for the next two days, which we spent in our portaledges. We continued on February 13, when the weather improved slightly. The free climbing was over. Up to this point, the hardest pitch was about 8 (5.11d).

Our progress slowed down to 50 to 100 meters a day. We started to discover what “British aiding” is all about. There were no bolts on belays and in some places even no pitons. We had to admire the boldness of the Britons.

On the eighth day of the climb, we got to a tiny ledge. From this point we set out on our summit push. We took just our sleeping bags and light food for two days. It seemed to us that the crack would never end. We still had to aid all the pitches. Suddenly, the gradient of the wall broke off. We continued on a starry night, hoping to reach the summit. At 2 a.m. we decided to make a bivy and continue in the morning. It was a beautiful sunrise and we saw that we were almost at the top. It took us four pitches to get to a false summit. For the last couple of meters we untied from the rope and soloed to the correct top. On February 17 at 10 a.m. we reached the highest point of the Central Tower of Paine and enjoyed the excellent views. We stayed for about 30 minutes and then started to descend. By evening, we reached the spire at the beginning of the crack with our haulbags and portaledges. It took us the next day to get down on the glacier. The last four days we suffered from terrible thirst because we had no water. We named our variation Macaroni-Porridge Junction and graded it 8 A3+. We placed ten bolts and about 30 pitons.

Filip Šilhan, Czech Republic

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