Mayan Smith-Gobat and Ines Papert Add Free Pitches to Patagonia's Torres Central

Climbers try free variation to Patagonian testpiece Riders on the Storm
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Climbers try free variation to Patagonian testpiece Riders on the Storm
Ines Papert climbing pitch 23 of the route Riders on the Storm in Torres del Paine.  Photographer: Thomas Senf

Ines Papert climbing pitch 23 of the route Riders on the Storm in Torres del Paine. Photographer: Thomas Senf

“It will go free,” said Mayan-Smith Gobat of Riders on the Storm on Torres Central in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia. “It’s gonna be hard.”

On February 6, Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat accompanied by photographer Thomas Senf summited Torres Central, in Torres del Paine National Park, via the east face. The team succeeded in making the fifth known ascent of the 1,300-meter Riders on the Storm and adding more free terrain on the difficult Patagonian wall.

Mayan Smith-Gobat climbing pitch 31 (5.13a/7c+) on the route Riders on the Storm, Torres del Paine. Photo: Thomas Senf

Mayan Smith-Gobat climbing pitch 31 (5.13a/7c+) on the route Riders on the Storm, Torres del Paine. Photo: Thomas Senf

In January 1991, Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert, Bern Arnold, Peter Dittrich, and Norbert Baet first climbed the east face of Torres Central over a six-week period at 5.12d/7c A3. There have been several attempts to free climb the route since, including a 2006 attempt by the Belgian team of Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Séan Villanueva, and Micke Lecomte.

Riders on the Storm

 Topo of the route Riders on the Storm in Torres del Paine. Photo: Franz Walter

Papert and Smith-Gobat went to the formation with the intent of free climbing the route. They found a five-pitch free variation to a pendulum in the middle of the wall and then freed two new pitches higher on the wall, climbing terrain as hard as 5.13a/7c+.

Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat on the summit of Torres Central after their successful climb of the route Riders on the Storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat on the summit of Torres Central after their successful climb of the route Riders on the Storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

“The outcome was as good as we could have got,” said Smith-Gobat of the three weeks of reasonably stable weather and good progress on the wall. After summiting, the pair descended to work more on their free variation. Falling rock and ice hammered their portaledge, and bad weather prevented them from further progress.

Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat descending after climbing Riders on the Storm in Torres del Paine. Photo: Thomas Senf

Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat descending after climbing Riders on the Storm in Torres del Paine. Photo: Thomas Senf

Due to the objective hazards, Papert has decided against returning; however, Smith-Gobat is motivated to attempt the route again next summer.