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South America, Argentina and Chile, Southern Patagonia, Chile, Torres del Paine National Park, Peineta, Capicúa Pastor

Peineta, Capicúa Pastor. In October, Dario Arancibia and I summited Peineta, the fourth Paine Tower, by a new route (Capicúa Pastor, 12 pitches, 500m, 5.9 A1+), making what seems to be the seventh climb of the spire. Our route ascends the west face, facing the Valle del Silen- cio (opposite the east faces of the Fortress and Shield).

We were a three-climber team, Francisco Rojas being the other member, with the idea of opening, in winter, a new route on the Shield, but we had problems with it from the very beginning. We entered the Paine Towers on August 1, in winter conditions, with loads totaling 1,000kg. After 15 days we were established in the Japanese Camp; then we took two weeks to put a cache in Valle del Silencio and, finally, five days to sculpt a snow cave in the glacier between the east faces of the Fortress and Shield.

The weater, although harsh, was more than acceptable.But after we had climbed the first 50m of the Di Donna Couloir, the avalanches began. After additional incidents in the following days, we retreated and changed our focus to Peineta.

On September 11 a severe storm arrived and stayed for 17 days, and Francisco Rojas had to leave because of his job. In the first week of October, Arancibia and I fixed nine pitches, and, after another week of bad weather, on October 14 we summited. Two weeks later, on November 1, we left for civilization after retrieving our ropes and garbage.

According to information we received (though we don’t know if it is 100% correct), the first climb of Peineta was made in 1986 by Cristophe Delachat and Pierre-Jean Pradalier (MD+ 6b A2). The second was made in 1990, from the east side, by Yvan Boullen, Pierre Faivre, Lionel Pernollet, David Ravanel, and Jerome Ruby (28 pitches, ED 6c A3). Thereafter, several new routes and repeats have been made.

Our expedition was the only mountaineering activity in Paine Towers this winter. Ours was the third winter expedition ever, after Mario Manica and Luca Leonardi in 1987, and Rodrigo Traub, André Labarca and Claudio Retamal’s attempt on Paine Grande in the late 90s.

Peineta should be considered the fourth Paine Tower. If it isn’t, it’s because most people see the towers from east, where Peineta seems to be more a granite wall than a spire-like mountain. A lot of space for new routes remains on Peineta.

Rodrigo Fica, Chile