The 30-pitch South African Route on the east face of the Central Tower of Paine in Chile was just free-climbed by a team of three. It’s the second free ascent after Nico Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto made the first free ascent in February 2009, after 13 days of effort.
Tyler Karow, Cedar Christensen and Imanol Amundarian needed less than 10 days to redpoint the 1,200-metre 5.12c this month. “We managed to summit on day eight in perfect weather and sent the final crux on day nine in the rain,” said Karow.
The route was first climbed in 1973/74 by South Africans Michael Scott and Richard Smithers at A4/5. It was not repeated until it was aid climbed again in 2004 by other South African climbers, but they stopped below the summit.
“We encountered some amazing free climbing pitches with very sustained climbing mostly in the 5.11 range almost never below 5.10+,” Favresse said in 2009. “We estimate the two hardest pitches around 7b+/5.12c. One of them is a very pumpy fingertip enduro corner while the other is a face climbing boulder problem with a spectacular sequence using a crystalline pocket. We added one bolt to protect this free variation (away from the aid line). Another main free crux of the route is a mega sustained steep 5.11+ offwidth which was very run out with the only number 6 Camelot we had. Three of the pitches were redpointed after the summit due to icy conditions.”
Watch scenes from the 2009 Patagonia expedition below.