A Windy Patagonian Adventure!

After some years I decided to organise an all women expedition again. For our destination I choose the Torres del Paine group in the Chilean Patagonia. As I know the Paine towers haven’t had any all women ascents yet. Even ascents by mixed parties are rare so we were very excited to make it.

I went with my good friend Nastja Davidova and we chose to try the Chris Bonnigton route on the Central tower. We took a flight to El Calafate and then with the bus to Puerto Natales where we bought all the food.  The next day we traveled by bus to the entrance of the national park and then to the administration where we had to take care of all of the formalities and permits. They told us that they had had incredibly good weather for more than ten days, with no wind at all. Almost everybody had made it to some summit, Steve Schneider all three. But it was changing…

In the afternoon we left to the first camp in Chilenos. One horse carried our stuff to Chilenos and after that we had to carry everything on our backs. So we started the long walk to our base camp: Campo Japones with very heavy (and too small) backpacks. In my last three expeditions we always carried equipment with horses, so i forgot to take my biggest backpack.
Eventually we arrived in Campo Japones very tired and set up base camp. It was very cold and next day we woke up to rain.

The next two weeks it didn’t rain or snow, but it was terribly windy all the time, far too windy to climb. We took all of our equipment to the advanced camp where we waited for another good weather window.

Finally it was supposed to be good just two days before our departure. We went up the night before, it was a perfect night with thousands of stars. Woke up at 3 A.M. to start the approach. The approach used to be a snow couloir. Now there is no snow anymore. It ended up taking us 7 hours instead of the normal 3. When we started to climb the wind was around 30km/h, but it was increasing with every pitch. We continued up for 8 pitches but it seemed impossible. Sometimes we couldn’t move for the wind and we were really slow. At 4 PM we sadly decided to go down, because we were really afraid of being stranded if the weather got worse. I think that the wind was more than 60km/h. We made just half rappels and never dropped down our ropes so that they wouldn’t get snagged.
We arrived back at advanced camp at midnight when it started to rain. We continued to base camp and got lost in the forest, finally arriving at base camp at sunrise…

So Torres del Paine still remains without an all women ascent!

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