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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, Ascencio Valley, Torres del Paine, Various Ascents

Torres del Paine, Various Ascents. Sylvain Empereur and I flew from Lyon, France, to Punta Arenas, Chile, on October 12. Two days later, we reached the Japanese Base Camp in the Silencio Valley (to reach the camp, we had to pay U.S. $80 each to enter the national park in which it is situated). We were alone, as it was early in the season and unusually snowy. We waited a week in bad weather before we could move. Then we tried to repeat the route Wild Wild West on the Central Tower of Paine (opened by S. Cosgrove and J. Smith in 1991 and still unrepeated). After two days of climbing in alpine style (with two ropes), we reached belay number 7, but strong winds arrived, forcing us to abseil. Two days later, we climbed the Bonington route on the Central Tower in six hours and 15 minutes from the col to the top (simulclimbing with one pack, no bivy gear, and two ropes). The route was very dry and the weather perfect. After a rest day in base camp on November 1, we used the same style to climb the Aste route of the South Tower in four hours and 45 minutes from the rimaye to the summit (21 hours BC to BC). We used only half a pitch of aid (due to bad rock in the first part) and found difficulties up to French 6c. The upper section was superb, all on sound granite, with good, windy weather. However, during the night, the infamous Patagonian weather returned. Nevertheless, we tried to ascend Ultima Esperanza on the North Tower two times, but the Aste route was to be our last ascent. We left BC on November 11, having climbed four out of the five days possible in the month we spent here.

Jérome Arpin, France