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Torre Sur - Torres del Paine
Mountain/Rock

Torre Sur - Torres del Paine

 
Torre Sur - Torres del Paine

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Patagonia, Chile, South America

Object Title: Torre Sur - Torres del Paine

Elevation: 8204 ft / 2501 m

 

Page By: Craig Peer

Created/Edited: Nov 27, 2002 / Jan 12, 2005

Object ID: 151366

Hits: 45973 

Page Score: 94.63%  - 48 Votes 

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Overview


The Torres del Paine ( Towers of the Blue Sky ) are some of the most outragous and wildest rock climbs in the world. Located about 160 kilometers south of the Fitzroy / Cerro Torre group and 400 kilometers north of the Straits of Magellan, Paine National Park is also one of the most beautiful places one can visit. Guanacos ( a smaller cousin to the alpaca and llama ), rheas ( large fast birds, like an ostrich ) and condors are just some of the local wildlife to be seen. Torres del Paine National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Situated east of the Southern Patagonia Icecap, this area also receives some of the worst weather in the world. In fact, when I was there in 1984 / 85, the locals liked to say that Patagonia was one place you could experience all four seasons in the same day, and the local joke was - " if you don't like the weather just wait a minute " - it can change that fast!

While there are many interesting and difficult climbing objectives in Paine National Park, the three Towers are the most famous. Of the three Towers, the South Tower is the tallest and hardest to get to. The elevations are - Torre Norte del Paine ( North Tower ) - 7415 feet, Torre Central del Paine ( Central Tower ) - 8071 feet and Torre Sur del Paine - 8204 feet. Don't let the Towers lack of elevation fool you - these are up to El Capitan size climbs lashed by 100+ mile an hour blizzards that can last a week!

There are currently ( as of 5 - 26 - 2004 ) six routes on the South Tower ( if you count our 1984 / 85 route which now can be followed to the summit by either of the two new East Face route finishes ).

Getting There


There are several ways to get to Paine. Fly to Santiago, Chile, then fly to Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan. From there one can take a bus to the closest town and jumping off point for Paine - the beautiful town of Puerto Natales on the shore of the Ultima Esperanza sound. Another way one can reach Puerto Natales ( I went this way ) is to fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina, then take the domestic flight south to Rio Gallegos. From there one can take a wild bus ride west to Puertu Natales.

From Puerto Natales, there is a bus to Paine National Park, or inquire in town as to private guides which, for a small fee, will drive you to Paine with all your equipment and pick you up at a per determined time if desired. They can also be quite helpful in finding local supplies.

Once in the Park, it is necessary to either drive or, if the road is flooded ( quite possible in late spring ), hike ( after getting a park guard to ferry you via boat ) to the Estancia Cerro Paine. From here a trail leads first south, then west up the Rio Ascencio valley to the base camp used by the Italians in 1963 during their first ascent of the South Tower. From here one must shuttle loads up the valley past the linga trees, and then up a giant moraine to the glacial lake below and to the east of the Towers ( for the eastern routes on the South Tower ). For the original " Normal " route on the South Tower, continue to the Rio Ascencio valley around to the west side of the Towers.

Red Tape


Special permission is required for climbing, and should be requested from the Chilean embassy in your country. Or one can write to - El Director, Ministerio de Fronteral y Limites Del Estado, Santiago, Chile. They will want the following information - names, age, address, passport number, the marital status, occupation and climbing experience of the expedition members. In addition, if you belong to any mountaineering clubs or organizations they will want to know that too. Medical information may be required, but i don't believe any fee is currently required ( except to enter the park - about $ 14.00 per person ). Sending a letter in Spanish is recommended. Allow at least 3 months.

NOTE - this add by member CharlesD on Jan. 12th, 2005 - " getting into Chile requires a $45 'reciprocity fee' for folks from the USA " i please be advised!

When To Climb


October ( spring ) through February. Blizzards and week long storms can happen any time during the summer months. I don't know if climbing is possible during the winter months or not, but the weather can be miserable enough during the summer. I personally witnessed the wind pick up a 75 pound haul bag and toss it several feet, along with all three of us being knocked off our feet on the glacier. The most fun is to lean into a 50 m.p.h. wind with a 70 lb. pack on your back, knowing if the wind stopped you'd be flat on your face! 100 mile per hour winds aren't uncommon in Torres del Paine.

Camping


There are several excellent camp sites at the Torres del Paine base camp in the Rio Ascencio Valley, and at the glacial lake below the Towers on the east side. Water filtration is a must, and some sort of pre - filter is needed at the lake to keep your filter from choking on glacial rock flour. Good tents are an absolute necessity to keep the rain out. Good weather averages maybe 2 days out of seven ( if you're lucky )!

Higher up camping at an advanced base camp can be problematic. In 1984 when we attemped a new route on the East Face of Torre Sur, we quickly discovered that a tent set up on the glacier or nearby rock outcropping would easily be blown away in a matter of days, if not hours. Our solution was to dig an snow cave 5 minutes from the base of the wall and set the tent up inside. We camped like this for approximately 5 weeks. Some good books and food are about the only things that will keep one from going stir crazy under such conditions ( and shuttling loads from base camp )!

Quite a few food items are available locally to make your snow cave stay a bit less tedious. Our favorite was to make pancakes from scratch with flour and baking powder and put canned berry jam on them! Kills a lot of time too ( with blizzards lasting five days you'll have lots to kill )! Other than some freezed dried food, we were able to get everything we needed in Puerto Natales.

We brought an MSR multi fuel stove and used easily available kerosene. White gas was difficult to find and expensive, so we used a small amount of that for priming the stove.

Excellent information can be found in Alan Kearneys book Mountaineering in Patagonia ( ISBN # 0938567306 ). Heed the section regarding partners - one must be able to sit out long periods of bad weather together. Patience is a virtue most needed when climbing in Patagonia.

Mountain Conditions


CNN weather report for Puerto Natales

Miscellaneous Info


In case of emergency, the regional hospital in Punta Arenas provides excellent care at a very reasonable rate, which I unfortunately can personally vouch for. And watching the sun rise over Tierra del Fuego and the Straits of Magellan from your hospital room is a nice bonus.

External Links

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-14 of 14    
Craig PeerUntitled Comment

Craig Peer

Hasn't voted

Thank you Diego! I missed / didn't have the SW ridge route info. I will incorporate this information with your permission - many thanks! Craig


PS - Dave Davies is also South African
Posted Nov 27, 2002 6:22 pm
Diego SahagúnUntitled Comment

Diego Sahagún

Hasn't voted

No problem Craig, sorry for that error about the country of Dave Davies.
Posted Nov 27, 2002 6:56 pm
Craig PeerUntitled Comment

Craig Peer

Hasn't voted

That sounds like a trip for me to take next time I'm down there! Hopefully not too long from now. Thanks for the info.
Posted Dec 5, 2002 8:42 am
D SmithUntitled Comment

D Smith

Voted 10/10

Thought about going that route on our trip this Jan/Feb, but our trip's too short and airfare's too cheap right now. Check this deal out:





1/26: Santiago-Punta Arenas


2/2: Punta Arenas-Puerto Montt


2/10: Puerto Montt-Santiago


------------


Total airfare for 3-leg flight: $200 per person!





Lan Chile (national airline of Chile) also has what's called a "Visit Chile Pass", but that's $250 for 3 one-way segments within Chile. That's only available if your flight into Chile was on Lan Chile, however. It's something like $325 otherwise.


Posted Dec 5, 2002 10:08 am
Diego SahagúnUntitled Comment

Diego Sahagún

Hasn't voted

N face and N ridge





By Armando Aste, Vasco Taldo, Nando Nusdeo, Josve Aiazzi, Carluccio Casati of Italy in February 9, 1963. The expedition was formed by 8 persons, 800 m, 200 m of fixed ropes; VI- and A1 in the first shoulder, IV / V+ in the ridge.





SW ridge





By Giuseppe Bagattoli, Michele Cagol, Josef Espen, Paola Fanton, Fabio Leoni of Italy between October 29 and January 11, 1987; 1450 m: 7 mixed pitches (65º and V+) after the rocky ridge, with sections of VI+ and A2. ED





E face





Michel Piola (SWI) and Vincent Sprungli (FRA) summited in February 28, 1992; 900 m, 500 m of fixed ropes, 18 pitches 6b / A4. ED+





Craig Peer (USA), David Davies (USA) and Johnatan Gordon (SAF) climbed up to 150 m of the summit in December 1985; 9 days; 22 pitches (VI, A4 with rurps, knifeblades, 2 special pegs).
Posted Nov 27, 2002 5:37 pm
Craig PeerUntitled Comment

Craig Peer

Hasn't voted

Thank you Diego! I missed / didn't have the SW ridge route info. I will incorporate this information with your permission - many thanks! Craig


PS - Dave Davies is also South African
Posted Nov 27, 2002 6:22 pm
Diego SahagúnUntitled Comment

Diego Sahagún

Hasn't voted

No problem Craig, sorry for that error about the country of Dave Davies.
Posted Nov 27, 2002 6:56 pm
D SmithUntitled Comment

D Smith

Voted 10/10

If you have the time, another option for getting to the area is take the ferry from Puerto Montt. See the NAVIMAG site for details. They run a 3-day trip weekly to Puerto Natales.





Flying is more econimical, however I hear the scenery on the boat trip is absolutely amazing.








Posted Dec 5, 2002 12:06 am
Craig PeerUntitled Comment

Craig Peer

Hasn't voted

That sounds like a trip for me to take next time I'm down there! Hopefully not too long from now. Thanks for the info.
Posted Dec 5, 2002 8:42 am
D SmithUntitled Comment

D Smith

Voted 10/10

Thought about going that route on our trip this Jan/Feb, but our trip's too short and airfare's too cheap right now. Check this deal out:





1/26: Santiago-Punta Arenas


2/2: Punta Arenas-Puerto Montt


2/10: Puerto Montt-Santiago


------------


Total airfare for 3-leg flight: $200 per person!





Lan Chile (national airline of Chile) also has what's called a "Visit Chile Pass", but that's $250 for 3 one-way segments within Chile. That's only available if your flight into Chile was on Lan Chile, however. It's something like $325 otherwise.


Posted Dec 5, 2002 10:08 am
viewfinderUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

The elevation for Torre Sur here is now correct, despite the fact that it is given as 2850m by many maps and authorities, and previously by this site.





At the root of the many inaccurate elevations given in the Paine group is the wrong elevation for Cerro Paine Grande, which is 2884m, NOT 3012m or 3050m. It is obvious from photographs that Paine Grande is not significantly higher than Paine Chico. Cuerno Principal is about 2,200m, not 2,600m. It looks the same height as Paine Chico from Lago Pehoe because it is about 4km nearer.
Posted Dec 30, 2005 1:55 pm
skagitteamTransportation options

skagitteam

Hasn't voted

There is now another convenient way to access Torres del Paine from Argentina. From Buenos Aires, fly to El Calafate via Aerolineas Argentinas (about US$200). A company in El Calafate called "Chalten Travel" runs daily tourist buses to Torres del Paine that leave at about 6AM, arrive at the park around 11AM, and leave the park at 4PM to return to El Calafate. Although most people just make the day trip (uggh) the company recently agreed to let me ride in with their tour one day and then ride back with them several days later.



This saves considerable time from those coming from Chile because you can bypass Puerto Natales. One concern, however, is food. As others have noted, the Chilean border agents can be strange about food. I believe that their rules allow anything that is processed and sealed (in fact, they allowed me to bring a bag of fresh chorizo sausages!) but I have heard horror stories about climbers being swept for Clif Bars.
Posted Mar 19, 2006 5:55 pm
Jesus Malverdemas informacion...

Jesus Malverde

Hasn't voted

There is a climber's archive of Big Wall information/pitch diagrams/rack recommendations and expedition notes at Erratic Rock Hostel in Puerto Natales, Chile: http://www.erraticrock.com. Much of the information relates to the Torres del Paine and Fitzroy towers/walls. Alot of the information is the original notes (paper/handwriting/ink) of the climbers themselves. I saw expedition routes/notes going back to 1979. Put simply: it is a feast of Patagonia Big Wall climbing information/history. I spent about 20 minutes taking a cursory look at the information and there are about three books/folders. I doubt whether alot of the information has ever made it into mags/guidebooks. Apparently the information is the private collection of one of the owners of Erratic Rock, but it is apparently available for climbers to review/study and copy. If you are looking for additional beta or are curious about a potentially obscure route, it might be well worth a stop by Erratic Rock.
Posted Jan 3, 2013 12:50 pm
asmrzNew route on the North Tower

asmrz

Hasn't voted

Craig, As of January 2013, there is a new route on the North Tower. California (Lone Pine) climbers Myles Moser and Amy Ness climbed this



http://www.supertopo.com/tr/F-A-Plate-Tectonics-VI-5-12-C1-East-Face-of-the-North-Tower-of-Paine/t11832n.html



You can also read their story here:



http://roamingbanditos.blogspot.com/2013/01/plate-tectonics-vi-512-c1-east-face-of.html?m=1

Posted Apr 26, 2013 12:49 pm

Viewing: 1-14 of 14    

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