Brette Harrington, Jacopo Larcher and Siebe Vanhee are about to meet in Patagonia where they will attempt to free Riders on the Storm on the east face of Central Tower of Paine. This will be Harrington’s second time on the route.
The 1,300-metre route was first climbed by Wolfgang Gullich, Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold, Norbert Batz and Peter Dittrich at 7c A3 in 1991. The ascent took 15 days over six weeks. Gullich, the first climbed to send 5.14d with Action Directe, named it after a popular song by The Doors.
The first attempt to climb the tower was in 1940, but the first ascent to the summit was by Chris Bonington and Don Whillans up the 600-metre North Ridge at VI A2 in 1963. There are now over a dozen climbs to the top of the esthetic granite peak. The first route up the face was the South African Route in 1974 and the secont was Magico Est in 1986. The South African Route was recently climbed, read more here.
Riders on the Storm was then repeated twice in 2002 and then in 2006 by Olivier Favresse, Nico Favresse, Mike Lecomte and Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll. In 2016, Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat, and photographer Thomas Senf, climbed it while attempting to free as much as possible. In 2017, Harrington and Smith-Gobat teamed up to attempt a free ascent, but were turned away by bad weather.
Harrington, Larcher and Vanhee are three of the world’s most experienced trad climbers with several big walls to their names and single-pitch redpoints up to 5.13 and 5.14 trad. This is their first expedition as a team, and they’re all sponsored by The North Face. We’ll be following their attempt over the coming weeks.