Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll, Siebe Vanhee and Nico Favresse have made the first free ascent of El Regalo de Mwono on the east face of the Central Tower of Paine in Patagonia. The 1200 metre, 5.10 A4, VI route was first climbed a quarter of a century ago by Simon Yates, Sean Smith, Paul Pritchard and Noel Craine.
The three Belgians had planned to spend 15 days on the wall, after fixing ropes from the ground, but needed an extra four days of waiting for storms to pass in order to complete the last 35 meters and a free team ascent.
The free version of the route, which climbs up next to Riders on the Storm, has between 20 and 25 pitches and is graded 8a+. On this kind of big route, this number of course says very little about the true difficulty of the climb.
"Out of 19 days we had only about 3 half days of good weather. The rest of the time we made very slow progress while fighting with snow storms and raging winds. It was a real team effort! We completely ran out of food and were put to a true suffering test...2
All ended well though as Siebe Vanhee posted on Instagram:
Although all of us have never been so skinny, the team is all good and healthy enjoying the comfort of civilisation while working on putting some fat on our bones.