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Riders on the Storm’ is one of the legendary alpine big wall routes first ascended by Kurt Albert, Wolfgang Güllich, Bernd Arnold, Nobert Bätz and Peter Dittrich in 1991.
This obvious king line of 44 pitches, climbs 1300m up the center of the East face of the Torre Central.

In the last 33 years this masterpiece has never been entirely freed.

One of the major hurdles was the hard aid climbing and big pendulum across a blank face on pitch 16. In 2016 Mayan Smith-Gobat, Ines Papert and Thomas Senf discovered a possible 5 pitch variation at R13  that would make the route go entirely free. Mayan returned in 2017 with Brett Harrington and Drew Smith aiming for an all free ascent. Unfortunately, they were pushed back by the intense Patagonian weather.

“Riders on the Storm was still waiting to be freed. With a possible free variation already discovered it was a super attractive objective.” – Siebe
However extreme weather conditions are often the biggest challenge for free climbing in Patagonia. In 2023 Siebe teamed up with Jacopo Larcher and Brette Harrington to try. Like Mayan and Brette, they got shut down by wind, rain and snowstorms.

This year Siebe came back with Sean, Nico and Drew Smith.
“It was as easy as one single message; ‘Hey guys, I want to try to free Riders, are you psyched for another sufferfest?’” – Siebe
On the 15th of January we walked into the park with heavy loads of climbing gear and food.
We prepared for 1 month of autonomy. We shuttled our fat pigs to basecamp, Campo Torres, and the base of the wall.
During the first 9 days in the park we managed to climb one and a half days making it to the top of the pillar at pitch 13.

On the 24th of January a short window without too much wind gave us the chance to commit to the wall in capsule style.  
“We either get wet on the first day or on the last” said Nico.

We hauled and set up camp barely beating the storm that rolled in at 7pm.
It was game on!

The next few days we quickly managed to freeclimb the new free variation in harsh conditions, freeing the crux at about 7c+.
Day 6 on the wall we rallied to pitch 26, the famous ‘Rosendach’ roof. From there we only needed one good day to go the summit.
But it’s not called “Riders On The Storm” for nothing and when all the windows closed the Doors began to sing.
Seven days later we still hadn’t gotten passed the roof. Several attempts were made to climb but they were shut down by freezing temperatures and rime covered rock. The only progress made was Nico red-pointing pitch 23, a mega struggle in icy conditions, cleaning the snow off the crimps while freeclimbing. Most time was spent reading, playing music, having book-discussions, popcorn parties and melting snow. We also got several visits from 140km/h invisible trains. Patagonian winds never disappoint.

“Every time I climb this wall I realize I had forgotten what a masochistic experience it is to free-climb here” says Nico.
On day 14 we made it through the roof and continued free-climbing the last difficult pitches.
At nightfall, only 6 “easy” pitches from the summit, we got shut down by snow and heavy spindrift avalanches (for us simple rock climbers).
Another 2 days were spent at our local bookclub “the flying carpets”.

Finally, on the 9th of February we crawled out of our tumble-driers and climbed the remaining pitches to the summit.

Once again we squeezed through the eye of the needle, taking advantage of every little opportunity, working as a team and feeding on each other’s motivation.

This is the third free route on the East face of the central tower of Pain(e) (with South African route 2008, El Regalo De Mwono 2017). Each one of them is absolutely world class quality and one of the reasons this wall keeps calling us back. 



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