American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Torre Norte, East Face, Attempt

South America, Argentina and Chile, Torres del Paine

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Francisco Parada, Chile, AAC
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

Felipe Gonzalez Donoso and I, both from Chile, climbed on the east face of Torre Norte in Torres del Paine National Park in January and February 2009. We climbed all new territory, following three main dihedrals and then through a large overhanging section in the upper wall. We climbed for 11 days with one three-day stop for bad weather. Most of the climbing was icy, forcing us to aid a lot of pitches. Atop pitch 5 we camped for ten nights, as this was the only natural refuge on the wall, protecting us from frequent rockfall. One day we fixed ropes to the top of pitch 8, with plans to try an alpine attack from there to the summit. The next day we climbed for 15 hours in bad weather and darkness, with snow on our climbing shoes and cold in our bones. We opened another seven pitches before stopping, almost at dawn, perhaps 150m or 200m below the summit. We descended, not knowing if we would have time or the conditions for another attempt.

We returned in summer 2010 with the same plan in mind, but I was sick on the only day it didn’t rain. Felipe tried alone, but was turned back by constant ice and rockfall. Afterward, during bad weather, we retrieved our gear. We had climbed about 800m, up to 5.11 and A2+, and left bolt anchors until pitch 13. It was a great learning experience, not only of making a big wall route in Patagonia, but how to survive it.

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