British climbers Mike ‘Twid’ Turner, Jerry Gore, Calum Muskett and French cameraman Raphael Jochaud successfully overcame the difficulties of the southeast face of the South Tower of Paine - the tallest of the three famous towers - only to be frustratingly thwarted from standing on the summit by a typically fierce Patagonian storm.
Twid writes: "That wall is perhaps the last great problem of the Patagonian region of Torres Del Paine. Unfortunately, after climbing 900 metres to our high point at the top of the wall, ferocious winds of around 150 kmph and the cold, beat us back on our final day. We only had a 100 metres of easy mixed climbing to go. A bivy wasn't an option."
"It was a major climbing effort to scale this previously unclimbed big wall monster. Storms raged throughout the three week duration of the expedition and we only had two days of perfect weather. The 18 pitch climb was continuously difficult with several taxing A3+ pitches. The kilometre wide and high wall feels formidable to climb, while the compact granite no continuous crack systems on its smooth face."
"Combine the blankness with the cold of the shady face and the fact that it is exposed to the the prevailing Patagonian weather and you get one of the hardest big walls in the world. You need luck, some decent weather and perseverance to hang in there when the winds start to roar."
"There was plenty of loose difficult expanding pitches of granite on the lower/middle section to negotiate. The upper pink granite in contrast provided some excellent rock and some fine sections of free climbing. Young Welshman, Calum Muskett, on his first Patagonian big wall trip produced some sterling free climbing efforts in freezing conditions while Jerry and myself shared more of the challenging loose and scary aid pitches."
"It’s important not to forget the major contribution to the climbing and filming that Raphael Jochaud made. Raphael only joined the team last minute but proved to be the social lynchpin and culinary consultant for the expedition bringing along with him a fine flavour of French humour and cooking. It was a big team effort. The climb followed the line of the 2006 attempt I made with Stuart McAleese but continued to the top of the wall. This ‘suffer fest’ epitomises Patagonian big wall climbing and we called the route Wall of Paine."
The team would like to thank the sponsors who supported the expedition: DMM, Montane, Lifesystems, English Braid, The Mount Everest Foundation, The BMC and the Alpine Club.