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Fabian Buhl paragliding off Cerro Torre in Patagonia
Photo by Fabian Buhl
German climber Fabian Buhl, born on 02/11/1990
Photo by Fabian Buhl
The magical summit of Cerro Torre Patagonia
Photo by archivio Tommaso Lamantia
Cerro Torre in Patagonia
Photo by Planetmountain

Fabian Buhl paraglides off Cerro Torre

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Paralpinism in Patagonia: German mountaineer Fabian Buhl has made a paraglide flight off the summit of Cerro Torre in Patagonia. The 29-year-old is the first to do so after reaching the summit by his own means.

After a terrible start to the season in Patagonia an extended period of good weather has now set in, resulting in the first major summits. The startling news, originally broken by Rolando Garibotti of Patagonia Vertical, is that Fabian Buhl has pulled off one the most coveted feats of all, paragliding off the summit of Cerro Torre.

The 29-year-old mountaineer arrived in Patagonia at New Year and patiently played the waiting game until the weather window arrived. He ascended the West Face Ragni route with three French alpinists, Raphaela Haug and Laura Tiefentaler, carrying all the gear necessary for the ascent as well as his Susi 3 16m2 AirDesign paraglider. The two teams were basically the first to operate on the mountain and worked hard at opening almost all the route, encountering difficulties on the upper headwall plastered in 25cm rime ice. Only the final meters were opened by another team.

After a bivy just below the top Buhl set off from the summit at sunrise and landed on the glacier below. Speaking to planetmountain.com, the German stated: "It was so surreal to be the first team in this area. And then taking off at sunrise into the lee wind… The flight was indescribable."

This is the first unsupported paraglide flight off Cerro Torre - past flights off the summit resulted after being transported to the op by helicopter - and heralds and major milestone in the increasingly popular practice of paralpinism. As the name suggests, this entails climbing to the top of a mountain and paragliding back down to valley.

The dream of leaping off the famous summit mushroom has been caressed by many including Dean Potter who in 2005 opted to leap off nearby El Mocho, and Russian mountaineer Valery Rozov who in 2008 completed a BASE jump off the Compressor route, from a point circa halfway up the mountain. Last season Aaron Durogati soared off some of the most beautiful peaks in the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs but prohibitive conditions stopped him from even climbing Cerro Torre.

Fabian Buhl thanks his sponsors La SportivaPetzl

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Yesterday morning, before the sun peeked over the horizon, and while most of us were asleep, @fabi_buhl pulled this off!! . Fabi is the first person to fly off the summit of Cerro Torre after climbing up it (more historic details later). Together with @laura_tiefenthaler and @raphaela.haug, they climbed the Ragni route, cleaning copious amounts of rime as they “re-opened” the route during the first ascent of the season. Working with a French team composed by Christoph, JB and Matthieu, they “opened” (cleaned) all but the last 15 meters of the final pitch. . Fabi chose to fly off very early in the morning so as to avoid thermal exchange winds. The take-off was not without excitement. As he took the first steps, he realized that one of the lines was tangled, but he knew that if he stopped, he would have a hard time recovering psyche to try again, so he kept running, hoping the line would untangle as he loaded the glider (it did not). After a 17 minute flight, he landed on the Torre Glacier, in the vicinity of the “nunatak”. He wished he would have stayed in the air longer, but his hands got quite cold (the freezing line was at 2000m). . Thirty one years ago, in 1988, Matthias and Michael Pinn climbed the Supercanaleta and flew off the summit of Cerro Fitz Roy. Four days later, together with Uwe Passler they climbed the Compressor route, again carrying their paragliders, but were unable to fly off the summit due to poor weather. A week later they hitchhiked a ride back to the summit in a helicopter, and all three flew off. In 1991, Roman Tschurtschenthaler also hitchhiked a ride to the summit in a helicopter, and flew off. . Huge congrats to Fabi, and kudos to the Pinn brothers, whose 1988 climb-and-fly of Cerro Fitz Roy, and vision, was well ahead of it’s time. . Fabi flew an @airdesignparagliders Susi 3 16m2 . #cerrotorre #paragliding #patagonia #climbandfly

A post shared by Patagonia Vertical - guidebook (@patagoniavertical) on

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