Field notes from Riders on the Storm #4 by Mayan Smith-Gobat

The last episode...

After giving every once of strength I had to climbing the steep, previously unfree climbed, finger crack and then making the summit. Ines Papert, Thomas Senf and I enjoyed a perfect two hours on the summit in stunning weather.

Field Notes from Riders on the Storm by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Episode #2 from Ines Papert and my recent trip to Patagonia...

I instantly fell in love with this place - I had avoided coming down here for so long, scared of the commitment, dimensions and intense weather down here, but now they are exactly the things I loved about the place! Looking forward to heading back...

Riders on the Storm by Mayan Smith-Gobat

I'm alive and psyched to bring you a short update on my latest adventure! Enjoy... there is more to come!

Ines Papert and I nearing the summit of Riders on the Storm. We completed the 5th ascent exactly 25 years after the first ascent! Photo: Thomas Senf

Ines Papert and I nearing the summit of Riders on the Storm. We completed the 5th ascent exactly 25 years after the first ascent! Photo: Thomas Senf

On the 6th February Ines Papert and I 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.

Torres del Paine at sunrise. Photo: Franz Walter

Torres del Paine at sunrise. Photo: Franz Walter

This stunning line on the sheer 1300m east face of Torres Central was first climbed by Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert, Bern Arnold, Peter Dittrich and Norbert Bätz 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.

Likewise, Ines and I hoped to free climb the entire route. Our time in Patagonia began with incredibly stable weather and in their first week on the wall we 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.

Making the first free ascent of pitch 31, 7c+ of Riders on the storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

Making the first free ascent of pitch 31, 7c+ of Riders on the storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

On the last day of good weather, after 3 weeks on the wall, I scrapped together all my strength and climbing experience, and with fingers bleeding from countless places, succeeded to free climb pitch 29 and 30! It all came together in the one hour of early morning sunshine, before the upper crack became a waterfall from ice melting above. Then Ines, Thomas and ! 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.

With ines and Thomas on the summit! I could not have had a better team! Photo: Thomas Senf

With ines and Thomas on the summit! I could not have had a better team! Photo: Thomas Senf

However, our success was quickly dampened by rock fall hitting the portaledges that night while we were asleep, tearing Ines and my ledge open and narrowly missing us. Shaken yet still determined to finish the route, Ines and I returned to work on free climbing the lower pitches. Discovering that especially in warm weather this face is quite exposed to both ice and rockfall for the top of the peak - which is comprised of loose blocks held together by ice.

Sending the second pitch of our free variation. Photo: Thomas Senf

Sending the second pitch of our free variation. Photo: Thomas Senf

The climbing on Riders on the storm is demanding varied, from delicate face climbing with poor protection to off widths entire filled with ice. Ines climbed one pitch using an ice shoe with crampon on one foot and climbing shoe on the other and two ice axes which were also used as protection in the frozen crack - The “Papert-Technique". Ines, Thomas and I battled on, and in ever deteriorating weather managed to free all but two pitches of the original route and the most difficult two of their new variant. However, unfortunately in the last ten days of our time in Patagonia we were hit by extremely bad weather (more typical for Patagonia...). With winds over 120km and snowfalls down to 500m, the entire route became plastered in snow and we ended up having to retrieve our gear in the few days where the storm abated slightly. Getting no further chance to climb.

Ines on pitch 23, 7c, Riders on the Storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

Ines on pitch 23, 7c, Riders on the Storm. Photo: Thomas Senf

Though we didn't succeed in freeing the entire route Ines and I did have an extremely successful trip, resulting in a rare repeat of Riders in the Storm on the 25th anniversary of its first ascent. In addition we found a variation to the original line which, though likely to be very difficult, we both believe will definitely go free. Due to the unpredictable risks of this face Ines has decided against returning, however I am motivated to attempt the route again next summer.

Struggling to carry all our gear down after an epic cleaning it off the snow-clad wall. Photo: Thomas Senf

Struggling to carry all our gear down after an epic cleaning it off the snow-clad wall. Photo: Thomas Senf

Facts

- 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“

The topo, including our new free variation. Photo: Franz Walter

The topo, including our new free variation. Photo: Franz Walter

The topo including Ines and my new variation

The topo including Ines and my new variation

Many thanks to our sponsors, Chaly Gabl for the current weather updates and to Chino (Offtrailpatagonia.com) for the support throughout the expedition. 

Psyched after making the first free ascent of pitch 32 - the last crux pitch. Photo: Thomas Senf

Psyched after making the first free ascent of pitch 32 - the last crux pitch. Photo: Thomas Senf

Madagascar by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Sorry for my long period of neglect for my blog over the last while... The last six months have been full of beautiful highlights, yet always furrowed by deep terrible lows. These times have caused me to reflect on myself lot and changed my out look on life. There is a positive side to each situation or event and though I am definitely not always able to see it, in retrospect this time has been enlightening. I have been struggling to keep up - to adjust, and unfortunately my blog has suffered, but life continues, a lot has happened... 

Madagascar, Yosemite, New Zealand, Colorado, shoulder surgery, rehab and trying to get fit again... 

Where to start?

Madagascar!

Madagascar!

Boarding the plane to Madagascar was exciting, a step into  the unknown, a time to be away from all the normal parts of life - no internet, cell phone, electricity or connection to the world we knew. Yet, I was also hesitant, unsure how my shoulder would hold up to big wall abuse - long days of climbing, hauling and jugging. his was soon forgotten in the craziness of African life and new experiences. 

Everyday life in Madagascar...

Everyday life in Madagascar...

Transport...

Transport...

Even on the wall my shoulder help up fine and did not hold me back as Ben Rueck and I forged our way up a line of bolts disappearing into the unknown. We swung leads, taking turns to cautiously head up into unchartered territory. Delicately moving up the gradually steepening holdless slabs. To our surprise as the wall became vertical and then slightly overhanging the size of micro edges covering the wall increased, just enough to make the climbing possible - As if this line was made to climb!

The wall!

The wall!

Lemurs... Showing us how to climb

Lemurs... Showing us how to climb

We spent days fixing rope, hauling supplies. water and a portaledge up the wall, then finally committed to the wall. Staying up there until we reached the top! It was stunning hanging 800 feet above the barren African landscape, watching the clouds drifting in the valley far below us, hearing lemurs calling in the early morning hours. Our world narrowed - this vertical wall was all that existed for us.

Climbing out of our home on the wall. Photo: Andrew Burr

Climbing out of our home on the wall. Photo: Andrew Burr

This time, climbing our route Solar Fusion was a wonderful time when all the tough times were forgotten. Now looking back, it brings me inspiration to get fit again, to stay motivated when the road ahead seems too long and difficult. To remember what it is that I am striving for - The adventure of going places no human has touched before, the freedom of body and mind climbing brings when everything comes together! 

Ben looking thoughtful... 

Ben looking thoughtful... 

Thanks to my sponsors for their support, for making it possible for me to live with this freedom. I am looking forward to the next adventure!

Heading down... Happy to be back on the ground!

Heading down... Happy to be back on the ground!


Speed Record on the Nose! by Mayan Smith-Gobat

I am sorry I have been silent on my blog for so long... And that the new I am posting is a little old now. But better late than never right?!?!

Late October-November were incredible in Yosemite this year and there were an amazing crew of motivated climbers/friends around! I would like to thank my sponsors for their support, Adidas even rented a house for us all to stay at - a much welcomed comfort for all of the athletes!

For a deeper insight into my quest to lower the female speed record on the Nose, please keep watching for this years issue of Ascent!

Seeing the Positive... by Mayan Smith-Gobat

I canceled my plans for the summer, put my life on hold... Not knowing how my mothers illness would progress, yet knowing I needed to be with her, not racing around the world pursuing my crazy dreams. 

The place of Happiness, Brazil

The place of Happiness, Brazil

To deal with this stressful time of uncertainty and pain, I sought an escape, something to remind me of the beautiful sides to life. Rather than climbing a normal part of my life, it became my release - the one thing which brought some clarity back into my life. I no longer climbed to achieve something, nor did I care what I climbed or whether I fell off... Purely enjoying movement and being in nature. This made me remember how much fun climbing can be. I drove to Nuremberg at least once every week, often balling my eyes out for the entire 3 hour drive and arriving at Cafe Kraft a wreck. However, pulling on my snug team 5.10's and plunging my hands deep into my chalk bag always brought me some comfort - a sense of familiarity in a world of new emotions, fear and sorrow... and after climbing for a few hours, life became bearable again.  Cafe Kraft and the Frankenjura became my escape, my sanity, a little piece of the life I know and love...

"Enough power is something which does not exist" By Wolfgang Güllich

"Enough power is something which does not exist" By Wolfgang Güllich

Through this difficult time I was forced to discover a new place, one which had been on my backdoor step for a long time, but which I had never taken the time to explore. I discovered another home... a warm, welcoming community, a great place to train (Cafe Kraft) and an amazing amount of new routes to explore of every difficulty - The infamous Frankenjura, birth place of the red-point and hard sport climbing.

10365588_10204371209708182_5851462502361818519_o.jpg

Thanks to Adidas I was given the amazing opportunity to meet and train with Patrick Matros and Dicki Korb, the authors of Gimme Kraft and trainer's of crusher Alex Megos. I feel lucky to be able to work with these two very experienced trainers - To learn and grow as a climber. This has been helping me restructure my life, both physically and mentally. I have been learning how to effectively train and make sure my body is function to its maximum capacity.

I did an overall fitness test, with Volker Schöffl and the DAV (German Alpine Club), which has given me amazing parameters to taylor my training specifically to my requirements and knowing that there are no issues with my health is great. I can give it 100% with no second thoughts...

Being forced to stop, having the foundations of my life ripped out from underneath me, has forced me to stop. To think and take the time to slowly rebuild my life in the way I want it. I feel like over the last month I have been pulling together the strings of my life which had come unravelled, addressing all the things which I had left ignored while flitting around the world, pursuing my dreams. It has been a sudden and brutal step into a part of the world I largely managed to ignore until now.

A step which has been testing my patience daily, yet teaching me a lot and forcing me to grow as a person. There really have been some very positive aspects. Many heartfelt thanks go out to everyone - Friends, family and sponsors, who have all been there for me through this extremely difficult time. You are all amazing and I feel lucky to have you as a part of my life!