Riders on the Storm: Mayan Smith-Gobat and Ines Papert

On the 6th February Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat accompanied by photographer Thomas Senf summited Torres Central, in Torres del Paine National Park, via the east face. Succeeding in making the fifth known ascent of Riders in the Storm, 25 years after the first ascent of this historic route.

This stunning line on the sheer 1300m east face of Torres Central was first climbed by Wolfgang Guellich, Kurt Albert, Bern Arnold, Peter Dittrich and Norbert Baetz In January 1991 in fifteen days of climbing over a six week period. The line went at 7c, A3. Since then there have been several attempts to free climb the entire route but due to iced up cracks and the difficult weather conditions in Patagonia, two pitches of steep crack climbing near the top of the route prevented freeing them. There was also one pitch near the middle of the face where a pendulum and bat hooking is necessary to get past an entirely blank section of rock.

Ines and Mayan's goal was also to free climb the entire route. The trip began with incredibly stable weather and in their first week on the wall the pair succeeded in finding a very difficult five pitch variation to avoid the lower aid section. However, to make the most of the stable weather, they chose to focus on freeing the upper section and making it to the summit, before investing time into climbing these difficult pitches.

On the last day of the weather window, after 3 weeks on the wall, Mayan with fingers bleeding from countless places, succeeded to free climb pitch 29 and 30 in the early morning sunshine, before the upper crack became a waterfall from ice melting above. Then Ines, Thomas and her continued on to the summit of Torres central, reaching the top at 12.48 on the 6th February on a stunning and surprisingly wind still day.


  • Route: "Riders on the Storm", Torre Central 2800m, East Face
  • Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
  • 38 pitches (with the new free variant), 1300m
  • Grade 7c+ (2 pitches which haven't been free climbed yet)
  • Ines and Mayan free climbed all but 4 pitches of the entire route.
  • Ines Papert, Mayan Smith-Gobat and Thomas Senf from 16 Jan - 20 February
  • Climbing days 15
  • Summited at 12:48 on February 6th 2016
  • Fifth known Ascents of "Riders on the Storm“

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Photographer: Thomas Senf