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New Route and Fifth Overall Ascent of Cerro Paine Grande in Patagonia

Max Didier and Cristobal Señoret have made the first ascent of a route on the 300 meter (984 foot) southwest face of Cerro Paine Grande.

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Climbers Cristobal Señoret and Max Didier ascended the southwest face of Cerro Paine Grande to make the first ascent of a new route on the peak. Cerro Paine Grande, at 2,884 meters (9,462 feet), is the tallest peak in the Cordillera Paine massif of Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia. The mountain group is well-known for its three Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine)—the South, Central and North Towers.

Cerro Paine Grande, however, has only seen five ascents to date. Previous ascents occurred in 1957, 2000, 2011 and 2016. The fourth ascent in 2016 was carried out by Señoret himself, along with his uncle Diego and fellow Chilean Nicolás Gutierrez. This year, he returned with Max Didier to summit the peak again, setting a new route in the process.

The team’s post on SuperTopo described the line as climbing “to the far left of the existing lines, to reach the heavily rimmed west ridge, which it follows to the summit.” The pair climbed difficulties to 90˚ and WI4.

“The idea of opening this new route came to us when we saw this beautiful wall with many possibilities for ice climbing,” Señoret wrote in an email exchange with Rock and Ice, “the truth is that we studied the place a lot, and we dedicated a lot of time to get some knowledge about this seldom visited mountain that is so special to Patagonia. So we have many lines and projects of this type in the area.”

Leading a technical traverse on Cerro Paine Grande. Photo: Cristobal Señoret

The team reported relatively smooth sailing on the ascent, as far as first ascents of remote Patagonian peaks go. “We felt very comfortable,” Señoret wrote. “As we know the area, it was easier for us to make a good strategy. The first two days of approach the weather was very windy with some precipitation, so it allowed us to have a day of rest before the climb.” From base camp to base camp, the climbing took the pair a total of 13 hours. “The temperature and conditions were excellent while we climbed,” Señoret said, “the weather report was fulfilled as we expected.”

Their one reported snag was when Didier took a plunge into a crevasse, as the pair crossed the upper glacier. “The conditions were very windy and it was full of snow, so we found lots of crevasses that were hidden under the snow,” said Señoret. “Max fell into one and I made the stop, then I helped him to climb out, but he appeared at the surface without his sleeping bag. That left us quite scared. We lost a sleeping bag, but this was not an impediment to the climb.”

Didier and Señoret’s new route is the red line. Photo: Cristobal Señoret.

Sans sleeping bag, the pair continued on and made the summit, in just under half of a day.

Looking forward, Señoret said, “We have many projects in Patagonia. We wish to climb the Cerro Torre this winter, and to continue to make the first ascents and opening of virgin mountains. Our problem is in the resources, as we do not have enough to dedicate our lives to this.”

However, Señoret said, “We are very motivated. In a country as small as Chile it is very difficult to dedicate in a professional way to the sport as we would like, but this does not stop us from devoting most of our time to what we like the most! To climb technical mountains and, if possible, open new routes.” -Owen Clarke

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