BRAVE EFFORT ON SOUTH TOWER OF PAINE

Posted on: December 21, 2006


An image from the article "Unclimbed," in Alpinist Issue 4, showing the south face of the South Tower of Paine (2500m), Patagonia, Chile. In December, Stuart McAleese and Mike "Twid" Turner managed 800 meters of a new route on this previously unclimbed face, only to be thwarted 300 meters of easier terrain from the summit by the worst weather either of them had seen in their combined five expeditions to the area. They called their effort The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (VI 5.10 A3, 800m). [Photo] Conny Amelunxen

In December, Britons Stu McAleese and Mike "Twid" Turner climbed a new line, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (VI 5.10 A3, 800m) on the virgin south face of the South Tower of Paine. The team climbed over fifteen days to the top of the rock wall. With five days left they thought the remaining 300 meters of easy snow and rock to the summit was in the bag. However, five days of horrendous weather in a storm prevented them from reaching the summit. The team then endured a harrowing descent, complete with kilometer-per-hour winds, in a storm. While retreating both climbers were blown horizontally off anchors by gusts; to abseil they had to pull themselves down the ropes.

The team climbed capsule style 15 pitches, mostly 50 to 60 meters long, up a line that weaved up the unclimbed wall. Many difficult aid pitches, with plenty of hooking, linked hanging corners. During the climb the team never had one nice day: winds were very strong, temperatures were well below freezing and it snowed on each day (just like climbing on bad days in Scotland, with which both members have had plenty of experience). The weather was far worse than on any of the previous five trips the climbers had experienced in Patagonia. Both climbers were very happy with the climb and very content to escape alive!

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