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South America, Chile, Southern Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Paine Chico, Eol

Paine Chico, Eol. I first saw the west face of Paine Chico (also called Cerro Almirante Nieto’s west summit) in late 2002, when I was climbing on the east side of the Torres. I was surprised that there were no routes I knew of on the awesome-looking rock face. I found out that although thousands of people have seen this bastion (it’s the part of famous Mirador lookout), nobody had touched it. The idea for next year was there.

I returned to the park on December 1, 2003, and attempted the northwest pillar, then tried the west arête nine times [AAJ 2004, pp. 320-321. In that report, what’s here called the west arête was referred to as the southwest ridge. This feature in fact faces west, if not northwest—Ed.]

This year Grega Lacen and I decided to come later in the season, expecting better weather in January and February. The ice ramp that led to the real climbing on Paine Chico was gone, so we made our base camp on the other side, in the Bader Valley, on January 9. After nine days of bad weather, the pressure rose on the evening of the 18th, and the weather looked promising. We started from base camp at 3:30 a.m. and after four hours of steep approach started climbing. It went smoothly, and we were at the high point of our last year’s attempts at 2 p.m. The weather then started to get worse, and the wind was already strong, but we’d had enough of trying this windy arête, so we continued. A few hours later we found a solution to the steep upper part, and at 6 p.m. we reached the summit of Paine Chico in clouds and strong wind. Rappelling the most wind-exposed route in the region was a horror show, especially at night. We reached the base of the arête, with just half of the rope left, soon after midnight and reached base camp at 3:30 a.m. The round trip took us 24 hours of hard work. We named the route Eol and rated it V 5.11- (650m). We climbed in pure alpine style.

Tomaz Jakofcic, Slovenia