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Free South Africa, East Face of Central Tower, Torres del Paine, Chile. Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto have now carried out the first free ascent of this 1974 route.
Photo by Xpedition.be
Sean Villanueva, Nicolas Favresse and Ben Ditto on the summit of the Central Tower, Torres del Paine
Photo by Xpedition.be
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Free South Africa, first free route up the Central Tower of Paine for Favresse, Villanueva and Ditto

10.02.2009 by Planetmountain

After 11 days on the wall Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva amd Ben Ditto have carried out the first free ascent of the South African route on the East Face of the Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia.

At present there is little to go by and the information is fragmented, but the news just in is that the Belgians Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva and American Ben Ditto have managed to free the South African route up the east Face of the Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia.

The team spent 13 days on the wall, climbing "some spectacular pitches up there on amazing granite with incredible moves! The South African route offers some of the most amazing free climbing we have ever encountered."

The three arrived at the Torres del Paine National Park towards the end of January and after having deposited their gear at the base of the wall set off on 24 January with provisions for a fortnight. After the successful summit they are now resting in Puerto Natales, together with Pete Rhodes from England and Kinloch Earle from the USA who on their first trip to Patagonia climbed the North Tower via the Normal route before establishing a new line up a possibily hitherto unclimbed summit at the head of the Mirador valley.

The South African route is 1200m long and climbs a series of dihedrals straight up the East Face of the Central Tower. First climbed by Paul Fatti, Roger Fuggle, Art McGarr, Mervyn Prior, Mike Scott and Richard Smithers during the season 1973/1974, the route had graded A4/5.10 and had been repeated only once by a South African team in 2003.

With this ascent Favresse, Villanueva and Ditto have carried out the first free ascent of a route up the East Face. Many will remember Favresse's attempt, together with his brother Olivier, Sean Villanueva and Mike Lecomte to free the nearby "Riders on the Storm" in 2006. After 11 days on the wall the result was an incredible 7c free and one section of A2 aid on the 29th pitch.

Favresse is without a doubt one of the most expert big wallers of the new generation (just think about his routes in Yosemite in 2005, 2006 and 2008 and his routes in Pakistan in 2007, coupled with sport climbing skills of 8b onsight and 9a redpoint...). We hope to be able to give you more information soon about this latest ascent. In the meantime, check out the 1973 first ascent story here.


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