South America, Argentine—Chilean Patagonia, La Catedral, Southeast Face, and Torre Norte del Paine, West Face

Publication Year: 1993.

La Catedral, Southeast Face, and Torre Norte del Paine, West Face. Fabio Leoni, Danny Zampiccoli, Paola Fanton, Flavia Menotti and I spent January and February in the Paine region. We placed Base Camp at the foot of the southeast face of La Catedral in the Valle del Francés. We began the climbing on January 12. La Catedral is one of the most spectacular towers of Patagonia, but it is little known because of the difficulty of approach. Our route was very similar to climbs on El Capitan with cracks and dihedrals of an incredible steepness on beautiful rock. The climb begins immediately with very difficult pitches (VII+, A3+). In the first 700 meters of the 1000 meters of the ascent, there is barely a place to stand comfortably. We climbed on eight days with two bivouacs on the wall. At 3:30 P.M. on February 2, Leoni, Zampiccoli, Signora Fanton and I reached the summit in a strong snowstorm. On February 21, Zampiccoli, Leoni and I made a new route on the west face of the Torre Norte del Paine to the north summit of the peak; this route lies to the left of the new British-South African route. The excellent rock and difficulties not over VI+, A2 allowed us to do the climb in a single day, aided by ropes left on the face during an attempt by another expedition. [From another source, we learn that Signor Mànica was struck during the descent by rockfall which broke his leg. A difficult evacuation by helicopter followed.—Editor.] Because of climbers who seem to have little respect or love for nature, the incredible beauty of this region is being ruined by filth left at the camps and on the moraines and hundreds of meters of rope abandoned on the faces. This has happened in the last few years. In the very near future this little paradise will be destroyed. We did our best to remedy the situation. It would take little effort if all were to do their part.

Mario Mànica, Club Alpino Italiano