Via delle Mamme - West Face of Torre Central del Paine
The Torres del Paine come out from the Magellanic forests with high and impressive vertical cliffs. The majestic and the highest one among the three is the incredible Torre Central, situated in the middle. The West wall of the Torre Central is an impressive 800 meters high wall, secluded and hidden inside a wild basin surrounded by a circle of others mighty peaks. It considerably clashes with the iconic image of the opposite side, the East wall, celebrated and well visible from the Mirador, a panoramic point of view near the Base Camp approachable by a short walk. Here it's possible to take maybe the most impressive view over Torres del Paine stunning East walls, quite famous all over the world in reason of their excellence and outstanding steepness.
Who has not admired - if not in person at least in the pictures - this masterpiece of nature? While rising towards the sky like three perfect granite arrows they represent one of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world and draw irresistibly the eye of every climber. This vision is celebrated as well as the beauty of the surrounding landscape, shaped by the action of the ancient glaciers. Also renowned are the inclement weather conditions which distinguish this area.
As told, the West face does not allow to be observed so easily as the East one! It's a less known but stunning wall, cut by two obvious cracks-systems.
In 1992 an italian team climbed in first ascent the right cracks-system, opening a new route named Via delle Mamme, a challenging direct line on good rock, following mainly steep and often overhanging cracks.
Torres del Paine 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. 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 a narrow 7 Km. long car road (private, tourist-cars are not allowed) leads to the Estancia Paine (Lodge), from where it starts the approach-trail to the Chilean Camp; follow the trail 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 famous “Mirador” - is easily reached following a short trail from Torres Base Camp.
The first ascent of "Via delle Mamme" was realized in 1992, November 15th-16th by the team of "Torres del Paine '92" Italian Expedition composed by:
- Carlo Barbolini C.A.A.I. - I.N.A.
- Bruno De Donà A.G.A.I.
- Angelo Pozzi I.N.A.
- Alberto Rampini C.A.A.I. - I.N.A.
- Mario Vighetti
From Laguna Amarga follow the track to Estancia Paine and then the trail to the Torres del Paine Base Camp (650 m.), situated inside the beechs wood below Torres del Paine majestic East Faces. Continue up the Rio Ascensio Valley and then follow on the left the Ascensio Glacier's moraine.
Along the moraine you pass near a great bivouac place covered by a huge block.
A long snow-gully leads to the base of Central Tower West Face, situated inside a mighty circle of peaks, closed by Fortaleza and Escudo. Here the expedition put the advanced camp.
***Via delle Mamme
Summit altitude: m. 2460
Difficulty: ED+, VII, A3 (UIAA Scale)
Climbing length: 800 m
First ascent: Carlo Barbolini - Bruno De Donà - Angelo Pozzi - Alberto Rampini - Mario Vighetti 15-16 november 1992.
The impressive wall is cut by two very obvious cracks' systems, situated in the left-hand side of West Face: "Via delle Mamme" follows the right one, while along the left crack rises "Rosso di Sera". The route climbs a vertical cracks' system linked by two pendulums. All the belays are equipped with one peg and one bolt, while along the pitches there are a few pegs in place. Necessary some pegs and all size friends.
"Via delle Mamme" second ascent was made in 1996 by Scott Lazar, Mike Pennings and Cameron Tague (USA), mostly free climbing. A complete free ascent is still waiting for a corageous party, and it seems possible.
Rope 2 x 60, helmet, some pegs, all size friends, 15 quickdraws, ribbons.
Torre Central and the entire Cordillera del Paine is lying inside "Torres del Paine National Park", one of greatest park in the country, established in 1959 and declared an UNESCO WORLD BIOSPHERE RESERVE in 1978. Access in regulated and an entrance fee is due.
Some useful informations here:
"Patagonia Terra Magica per alpinisti e viaggiatori" Gino Buscaini and Silvia Metzeltin, Dall'Oglio Ed.