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South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Chile, Torres del Paine National Park, General Information

General information. Riders on the Storm (1,200m, 5.12d A3), first climbed by Germans Nor- bert Bätz, Peter Dittrich, Bernd Arnold, Wolfgang Güllich, and Kurt Albert on the east face of Torre Central in 1991, received its fourth ascent, from a Belgian team composed of Olivier and Nicolas Favresse, Seán Villanueva, and Mike Lecomte. After fixing the first six pitches they committed themselves to the wall, spending 11 days up and down to complete the ascent in capsule style, using portaledges. They summited on February 8. Time and weather kept them from freeing everything. They free-climbed all but three pitches, plus two that they didn’t red- point. They describe finding a three-pitch variation to the right of the original line that might go free, but would be quite hard, perhaps 5.13. The other two ascents of this route took place in 2002, by Czechs David Stastny and Jan Kreisinger, and by French Arnaud Boudet, Martial Dumas, Jean Yves Fredericksen, and Yann Mimet.

Other Paine news involves CONAF’s (the national park management’s) growing concern about rescues and insurance. After the death of a U.S. climber during the 2004-05 season, CONAF now requires that climbers present proof of rescue insurance, including an insured number, and a letter from a helicopter operator confirming that they will come in case of need.

To help those who might visit Paine, below are the basic guidelines, which will help avoid problems when securing the climbing permit, which is free. We thank Hernan Jofre, of Antares Patagonia in Puerto Natales, for this information.

Because Paine is located close to the border with Argentina, all foreign visitors must first secure DIFROL (border patrol) clearance. This needs to be done at least 20 days before the start of the expedition. Go to www.difrol.cl, click on the “Autorizacion de Expediciones” link, then go to the bottom of the page and click on the “Si lo desea, puede completar el formulario Aquí” link and fill in the application. This clearance is free.

Bring proof of travel insurance or rescue insurance. Note that though AAC membership includes rescue insurance, because the AAC does not issue specific rescue insurance cards and print individual member or policy numbers on membership cards, presenting your AAC membership card probably won’t suffice. You will be asked for your own personal rescue insurance number and card. Make sure that information about how to contact the company is included in the proof of insurance. The AAC is working on this issue, so check the website for further updates.

Visit www.dap.cl, and contact them at ventas@aeroviasdap.cl and ask for a quote for a possible rescue in Torres de Paine Park. Indicate that it will involve approximately five hours of helicopter time. Present this quote to CONAF, along with your rescue insurance info and your DIFROL clearance to secure the climbing permit, which, as mentioned earlier, is free.

Compiled by Rolando Garibotti, with information from Hernan Jofre and Steve Schneider