Riders on the storm. Nice ride on big waves!

Hello here are the latest news from our expedition in Patagonia.

5
days to approach the route and carry up our gear… 11 days on the wall
without touching the ground, 11 incredible days, an incredible
experience… 8 February 2006 at 19h31min, Olivier, Nico, Mike and Sean
reached the summit of the central tower of Torres Del Payne via the
route „Riders in the storm“ We did it!!! Yeehaa! Let us tell you what
happened in the last 16 days that we didn't give any news.

After
we left our base camp in the storm, our tents well tied down, we went
back to Puerto Natales (the nearest town) to buy some food and do a
little fiesta. The 27 January we moved back up to our base camp to try
our biggest and hardest project in the park: „Riders in the storm“(VII,
7c, A3, 1200m) an incredible line on the east face of the central tower
of Torres Del Paine, opened by Wolfgang Gullich, Kurt Albert, Bernd
Arnold, Norbert Batz and Peter Dittrids in 1991. During our approach
towards our camp we were really motivated and excited. We felt strong
and for the first time were looking up at the wall confident that we
were capable of climbing this incredible line.

It was a very
windy day… When arriving at our base camp our spirits were crushed…
our camp was destroyed by the storm… We found our two tents torn to
bits, our gear was lying around all over the place exposed to the wind
and snow. How can this be? We thought we had tied down our tents really
well…and we thought they were protected from the wind by big
boulders… What's missing? Is there still enough gear left to continue
this project? All our gear is so dispersed… Courageously we started
picking up our stuff. The wind was so strong we could barely stand…
The conclusion was pretty harsh: Nico's Djarango destroyed, our two
expedition tents irreparable, our radio's no longer working… Mike's
sleeping bag and bivy bag missing, gone with the wind…More than 2000
Euro damage… Paf!

Patagonia
teaches us the hard way… Will it still be possible to try Riders?
Will we have to go back down? Where can we sleep tonight if we stay up
here… Where can we leave all our gear? Oli had found a small cavity
under a boulder where he had left his gear which was untouched by the
weather…but no way was there enough place for four people… After
having looked around we came to the conclusion that our only
possibility was to start digging to make this cavity bigger…We dug
like moles for two days in a row to turn this small cavity into a true
underground 4 star hotel. Furthermore, Mike succeeded in borrowing a
sleeping bag from a ranger, surmounting an essential obstacle for the
follow through of this expedition.

We
grabbed the bull by its horns and forced him to the ground! Time to
charge! The next day Oli and Sean climb the first six pitches while
Nico and Mike start carrying up gear. This time we're really off. Two
days later, after a 24h day, we arrive at pitch 13 (700m), a small
ledge with some snow, where we install our two portaledges (hanging
tents). The first part of the route was absolutely amazing. Every one
of us was able to express ourselves in beautiful granite slabs offering
a variety of techniques. So here we are completely isolated from the
rest of the world and fully engaged in the route. We know we are only
going to get one chance to reach the summit. The next day of our
arrival at pitch 13, Mike and nico advance up to pitch 18. The style of
climbing is extraordinary and so pure. The rock offers us a variety of
climbing from corners to small crimpers, incredible cracks, scary
ofwiths and chimneys, pure joy.

The next two days the weather
turned really bad forcing us to sit patiently still in our portaledge
(700m off the ground). The following day Oli and Sean succeed in
climbing past the legendary roof to pitch 25…. This part of the route
(pitch 13-25) is absolutely magical!! Thanks to Sean's technical talent
(ha) and courage (??hmmm??), the team succeeded in passing a major
obstacle: a chimney of which both sides were completely covered in
ice…Oli succeeds in climbing some incredible cracks with holds which
were not always very trustworthy… At the end of the day they passed
the great roof after which they were forced back to camp 13 by a snow
storm. A successful day! Having passed the roof this meant that we only
needed one more day of good weather to reach the summit. Unfortunately
we are forced, to wait patiently in our portaledges for 3 days.

The
cold wind and snow make it hard to go out, so we play music and cards
all day and celebrate Sean's birthday with half a chocolate bar on the
third day. Every day we go to bed early and systematically wake up to
check the weather at 2am, 4am and 6am. Food was running out… On
February 8, the wake up call sounds at 2 am: the sky is covered in
stars!!!! Super motivated we leave towards the summit. Oli and Nico
tackle the first couple of pitches after the roof (25-31) while Mike
and Sean redpoint the legendary roof. Nico succeeds in passing three
sketchy pitches covered in ice and snow, and Oli is forced to advance
the next two pitches in aid as a result of ice and waterfall…

The
strategy seems to work thanks to good teamwork. At 13h Sean and Mike
take the lead on the last couple of pitches towards the summit. The
will to get to the top drives Mike to quickly climb the next three
pitches, passing a snow patch with crampons and ice ax which we brought
just in case… Next Sean tackles the last pitches to the summit
advancing carefully true loose rock. At 19h31 the Patagonia Dream team
is on the summit, happy to have fulfilled a dream and to have lived
this incredible adventure. We carefully descended back down to pitch 13
trying to make sure our ropes don't get stuck. At two occasions we are
forced back up to recuperate our ropes. Exhausted but happy we arrive
at camp 13 at 2am. The next day we wake up to a snow storm…. Which
forces us to stay put.

Luckily
the day after the weather is clear allowing us to have some fun in the
most beautiful pitches of the route before starting our descent back
down to earth at the end of the afternoon. The rappels down seemed to
be more dangerous and delicate than expected (we still aren't sure we
found the right line…) and it's only around 4am that we arrive sound
and safe back down at our underground base camp (or as we like to call
it „Campo Belga“). When arriving back down, the glacier had changed so
much during the 11 days we were on the wall, new crevasses that had
appeared, forcing us to leave some gear at the base of the wall and
carefully finding our way back down in the dark.

After having
cooked ourselves a well deserved meal we get a little sleep before
starting to carry all our gear back down to the inhabited world. It
takes us 2 days to get back down to the entrance of the park and jump
on the bus back to Puerto Natales. So here we are, back on earth to
share our story with you. It was an absolutely magical experience and
we are all extremely happy to have lived this incredible adventure. We
have now moved to El Chalten (Argentina)…though a couple of days rest
will probably be needed before we tackle our next adventure….To be
continued….

From Chalten,
The Patagonia Dreams Team

Info:
Riders
on the Storm wurde im Winter 1990/91 durch Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold,
Norbert Bätz, Peter Dittrich und Wolfgang Güllich
erstbegangen. Die Route ist als Big Wall mit 9/A2 bewertet und weist 36
Seillängen bei einer Routenlänge von 1.300 Metern auf.

Siehe auch:
www.giftlist.be/patagonie