Torres del Paine, rising up towards the sky like three perfect granite arrows, are really the ideal archetip of rocky towers staying in the dreams of every alpinist. The towers are located in the southern Chilean Patagonia (Chile’s Magallanes Region, Ultima Esperanza Province, Torres del Paine Community), between the Cordillera de Los Andes and the Patagonian steppes. Torres del Paine are rising up from Magellanic forests with impressive vertical cliffs. The majestic and the highest one is the incredible Torre Central, situated in the middle. From the "Mirador", a panoramic point of view near the Base Camp, it's possible to take the most impressive view over Torre Central stunning East Face.
This view is quite famous all over the world in reason of the outstanding steepness of the walls and the beauty of the surrounding landscape, shaped by the action of the ancient glaciers, renowned as well as the inclement weather conditions which distinguish the area. Notwithstanding this latter feature, every year mountaineers organize their trips, hoping to climb this glamorous peak, while adventurous trekkers come to enjoy the tower’s dramatic scene, a popular hiking destination in Chile.
The approach to the area is from Punta Arenas, the capital of Chile’s Region XII, a more than 100,000 inhabitants’s town, with an active airport (2,500 Km South of Santiago). A 200 Km paved road (Ruta CH-9) connects Punta Arenas with Puerto Natales, the last small town on the way to Paine Region. From Puerto Natales (about 20,000 inhabitants, hotels) drive along a 120 Km unsurfaced road, leading to Laguna Amarga Keeper Post (Park Gate).
From here follow a narrow 7 Km. car road (private, tourists’s cars not allowed) to Estancia Paine (Lodge), from where the approach-trail to Chilean Camp is starting; follow it to Torres Base Camp, lying at the foot of Torres del Paine East faces (about 3-4 hours by walking). An impressive view point - the worldwide famous “Mirador” - is easily reached following a short trail from the Torres del Paine Base Camp.
Torre Central del Paine and the entire Cordillera del Paine lie inside "Torres del Paine National Park", one of most spectacular park in the country, established in 1959 and declared an UNESCO WORLD BIOSPHERE RESERVE in 1978.
The Torres del Paine National Park is open all year round and is administered by the CONAF - National Forestry Commission. Access is regulated and an entrance fee is due. Its entry gates are about 115 kilometers from Puerto Natales. The Sarmiento and Laguna Amarga entry gates are open from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., all year round.
Inside the park there is a huge variety of animal species and plant. The landscape is characterized by stunning peaks, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, forests and superb lakes: Torres del Paine National Park quite deserves its reputation.
First summiters: Chris Bonington and Don Whillans 1963, January, 16th
- The likely first attempt to climb Torre Central del Paine dates back in 1940, when the Germans Rudolf and Werner made an attempt to climb up from the saddle between Torre Central and Torre Sur, without leaving any climbing report.
- Torre Central absolute first ascent was realized many years later by the British Chris Bonington and Don Whillans along the North Ridge VI, A2 600 mt. 16.01.1963.
- The Italians Armando Aste, Vasco Taldo, Nando Nusdeo, Josve Aiazzi and Carlo Casati realized the second ascent the day after the British team (17.1.1963), climbing the same route.
It is the wall where it's located the route of the first absolute climb of the tower:
"North Ridge British Route" - Chris Bonington and Don Whillans (UK) on the North Ridge VI, A2 600 mt. 16.01.1963 - The first route realized on the tower.
East Face Routes: A La Ballena de los vientos - B Insumisioa - C Magico Est - D El gordo, el flaco y l'abuelito - E Riders on the storm - F El regalo del Mwoma - G Golazo - H Una fina linea - i Macaroni - J South African - K Waiting for Godot - L Original British Route
Stunning and impressive, the East face is the tallest and most famous wall of Torre Central, celebrated in reason of its superb beauty and its verticality, as well as for the boldness of the routes running through it:
The West wall, less striking and known, is situated in an extremely wild and secluded setting. On the wall there are today three routes:
- "Rosso di Sera" - Mario Manica, Fabrizio Defrancesco, Fabio Stedile (Italy) 2.1.1986 ED sup., VII, A3, 700 m - Route 1
- "Wild Wild West" - Jan Smith, Scott Cosgrove (USA) 27.1.1991 5.11+, A3, 700 m - Route 2
- "Via delle Mamme" - Carlo Barbolini, Bruno De Donà, Angelo Pozzi, Alberto Rampini, Mario Vighetti (Italy) 15/16.11.1992 ED sup., VII, A3, 750 m - Route 3
"Kanterarik Ez" - Jon Lazkano, Kike de Pablos (Spain) 27.1.1991 6c, A3, 700 m
"Antxon Eta Gaiska" - Andoni Areizaga, Josetxo Rodriguez, Gerardo Telletxea, Martin Zabaleta (Spain) February 1998 5.10d, A2, 900 m
"Kearney-Knight" Alan Kearney, Bobby Knight (USA) 2.1.1986 VI, A3, 800 m
"Ragni di Lecco" Marco Ballerini, Carlo Besana, Renato Da Pozzo, Norberto Riva, Dario Spreafico (Italy)24.12.1986
“El Gordo, El Flaco y L’Abuelito” Rolando Larcher, Fabio Leoni, Elio Orlandi (Italy) 7.2.2008 7a+/A3+, 1200 m. More informations here: Planetmountain
"Waiting for Godot" Hansjörg Auer and Much Mayr (Austria) january 2010 7b, M6 750 m. The route ends at the col between Torre Central and Torre Norte. More informations here: Planetmountain
Belgian climbers Nico Favresse, Siebe Vanhee and Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll managed to squeak out a 19-day free ascent of the 1200-meter route "El Regalo de Mwono", originally VI 5.10 A4 when first climbed in 1991-'92, now 5.13b. More info: "Alpinist"
Camping is allowed only in some official campsites and any fire is strictly prohibited.
The best time to climb goes from November to late February, the local summer, being the region located on the Southern hemisphere.
Other useful information here:
"Patagonia Terra Magica per viaggiatori e alpinisti" by Gino Buscaini and Silvia Metzeltin
I Ed. Dall'Oglio 1987 - II Ed. Corbaccio, Milano 1998 ISBN: 88-7972-335-9