Huge Route Free-Climbed on Central Tower of Paine

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Looking up the route: More than 4,000 feet to the top. Courtesy of Xpedition.be.

Looking up the route: More than 4,000 feet to the top. Courtesy of Xpedition.be.

Belgians Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse, and American Ben Ditto (left to right), on the summit of the Central Tower of Paine. Courtesy of Xpedition.be.

Belgians Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse, and American Ben Ditto (left to right), on the summit of the Central Tower of Paine. Courtesy of Xpedition.be.

News Link: The Belgian-American team of Nico Favresse, Sean Villanueva, and Ben Ditto have completed a 13-day, all-free ascent of the South African Route on the east face of the Central Tower of Paine in Chilean Patagonia. This is the first free climb on the 4,000-foot-plus east face.

The South African Route was established during the winter of 1973-74 at 5.10 A4, and is believed to have been repeated only once before.

In 2006, Favresse and his brother Olivier, along with Villanueva and Mike Lecomte, repeated Riders on the Storm (VI 5.12d A3, 36 pitches) on the east face of the Central Tower, free-climbing all but three pitches.

See a brief account of the free climb and more photos at www.xpedition.be.

Dates of Ascent: January-February 2009

Sources:Xpedition.be, American Alpine Journal

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