Hard Free Ascent in Patagonia

Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto have made the first free ascent of the central tower of the Torres del Painevia the South African Route (5.12c/7b+ 1200m).Commenting after the ascent, Nico said:”Our ascent is possibly the thirdascent of the route and the first free ascent of the east face of thecentral tower. We spent 13 days on the wall accompanied by ourtrusty mandolin, tin whistle and harmonica.”The route was extremely sustained at a high standard, “mostly in the 5.11 range almost never below 5.10+”. Sean, Nico and Ben were extremely impressed with the first ascentionists, finding the route exceptionally clean with only two bolted anchors on the entire route and very few insitu pitons. They did however encounter a lot of abandoned fixed ropes, left behind by previous expeditions on the east face:”We brought down as much as we could – afew hundred meters of ropes. It's a pity climbers trashed the wall likethis. Most of the ropes we found were hanging on the lower slabs whichshares the start with other routes so we are not sure who left them behind.”The team were at first sceptical as to the feasibility of their project route. Would it actually go free?”We had heard of grades from A3 up to A4 and knifeblade seams so we werereally not sure it would go entirely free. So we decided to leave ourassumptions on the ground and follow our instinct…”” …We estimate the2 hardest pitches around 7b+/5-12c. One of them is a very pumpy finger-tipenduro corner while the other is a face climbing boulder problem with aspectacular sequence using a crystalline pocket. We added one bolt toprotect this free variation (away from the aid line). Another main free cruxof the route is a mega sustained steep 5.11+ offwidth which was very run outwith the only number 6 Camelot we had. 3 of the pitches were redpointedafter the summit due to icy conditions.”Ben Ditto climbing pitch 13, South African Route free ascentUKC News© Sean/NicoClimbing in Patagonia has moved on in the last few years. Tales of weeks wasted sitting in bad wether, missing the only available opportunities to climb have been replaced with stories of sport climbing, beer drinking and great trips with maximum success. North Wales based climber and mountaineer Adam Wainwright commented after his recent trip to Patagonia that:”The whole area is so much more accessible now. It's like being in Chamonix. You can hang out in town, drink beer and go bouldering. Then you get a really detailed weather forecast from the internet and you head in to the mountains. No more sitting around for weeks on end in the snow.”The free climbing trio opted for a capsule style ascent over several days, sleeping on portaledges and hauling their gear. Sean and Nico, known as much for their legendary musical jamming talents as their ferocity on the rock said afterwards:”Even though we never had very good weather we were disappointed that itwasn't worse as we were looking forward to do some portaledge surfing andlong jamming sessions.  We were only trapped in our portaledges for twodays, other days we were able to get at least one pitch in.”The Team is now taking some time to recharge the batteries with steaks,drinks and parties in Puerto Natales. Watch videos of the guys having some fun!More information is available on:Blog of the expedition : www.xpedition.beNicolas Favresse's website : www.nicolasfavresse.comBen ditto photography website : www.bendittophoto.comThe team would like to thank the sponsors of this trip:Patagonia, Black Diamond, Five Ten, Scarpa, Sterling ropes, The Belgian Alpine Club, Belclimb.net, Seeonee, Julbo, UPPMand climb.beDiesen Artikel inkl. Bilder auf UKClimbing.com anschauen