Climbers open first Chilean route on Cerro Catedral, Torres del Paine

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Cristobal and Juan Señoret at the summit of Cerro Catedral, Torres del Paine. Photo: Señoret BrothersCristobal and Juan Señoret at the summit of Cerro Catedral, Torres del Paine. Photo: Señoret Brothers
 
 
By Antonia González
Translation by Patrick Nixon
 
Chilean brothers Juan and Cristobal Señoret have opened the first Chilean route on the north face of Cerro Catedral in Torres del Paine National Park, which they have named the "Dos Hermanos" (Two Brothers), with a grade of 5.11+ A0 800m.
 
 
Brothers Cristóbal (Tola) and Juan Señoret set their eyes on climbing Cerro Catedral in Torres del Paine back in 2019. They got the idea while making an ascent of Cerro Trono Blanco in the park's French Valley and, from the summit, they spotted a route on the north face of Cerro Catedral they believed could be opened. "We saw what looked like a very climbable arête, which piqued our curiosity. However, because the pandemic had just taken hold, we had to postpone it," Juan Señoret told Patagon Journal.
 
So, in January 2022, they returned to try to climb this beautiful route on one of Torres del Paine's most iconic and toughest mountains.
 
"Although it is not as well-known as the Torres peaks, when you are standing in front of it, it looks like a giant piece of quartz and I think it is one of the most beautiful peaks in Patagonia," adds Juan.  "In fact, a few years ago the climber Sean Villanueva became the first to open up one of the most complex routes on the east face of Cerro Catedral, and it took him quite some time." 
 
 
Topography of the route. Photo: Señoret BrothersTopography of the route. Photo: Señoret Brothers
 
 
The brothers knew it would be a difficult undertaking, but they were willing to try it or die in the attempt. Armed with their impressive experience on big walls, they did as much research as possible before embarking on this ambitious and exciting project, studying photos of the summit and possible routes that could be climbed.
 
"As always, we studied the weather very carefully and very cautiously to determine how the forecast was shaping up. It so happened that a big window was approaching, so we took advantage of it," says Juan.
 
And so, they started climbing the 20 high-quality pitches, peppered with finger and hand cracks and some technical moves at the beginning, but above all, reveling in the Patagonian air and the colorful landscape. "The biggest obstacle we faced once we were already on the wall was knowing whether the arête actually continued all the way to the summit and whether it was climbable. That was going to have to be seen along the way, but with all our experience and with everything that we have been able to accomplish over the years we were able to read the route well and climb it calmly," said Juan.
 
As they had studied the route very well, the brothers had a very clear idea of the different options they had for the ascent. The biggest dilemma they faced appeared when they had already completed most of the route. It was the amount of snow and ice left in the cracks from the recent storm just before the weather window opened. This could potentially have added complexity to the climb.
 
 
Photo of the second day gaining altitude and an incredible view of the glaciers and lagoons. Photo: Señoret BrothersPhoto of the second day gaining altitude and an incredible view of the glaciers and lagoons. Photo: Señoret Brothers
 
 
"That could have played against us, because we only had a two-day window, which was not very much. However, our desire to succeed spurred us on."
 
Just as they had planned, at about 7 p.m. on pitch 15 they reached a ledge, where they found snow. "We were able to melt snow to get some water and set up our tent in the middle of the wall and rest. It was a magical moment. If we had gone in February we would not have found any snow on this ledge. The following pitches were a bit wet, but it was doable. We were full of optimism," said Tola Señoret.
 
The next day they woke up at 5 a.m. and began to climb the last 300 meters to the summit. It took a long time, but at one point they began to spot other summits and knew they were close. By about 2:30 p.m. they were on the summit. "Reaching the summit of this technical and steep wall was undoubtedly a dream come true. It was something we had been dreaming of for years, and even better, opening up a new route," Tola added.
 

"Reaching the summit of this technical and steep wall was undoubtedly a dream come true. It was something we had been dreaming of for years, and even better, opening up a new route," Tola added.

  

After overcoming the first crux of the track. Photo Señoret Brothers.After overcoming the first crux of the track. Photo Señoret Brothers.
 
 
Juan on the wonderful summit of Cerro Catedral with Cerro Paine Grande behind him. Photo: Señoret BrothersJuan on the wonderful summit of Cerro Catedral with Cerro Paine Grande behind him. Photo: Señoret Brothers
 
 
At about 5 p.m. they returned to the ledge where they had left the rest of their gear, including the tent, food and some of their equipment, and by 10 p.m. they were at the base of the wall again.
 
That is how Juan and Tola Señoret concluded this wonderful and technical ascent, making it the first route on the north face of Cerro Catedral. They named the route "Dos Hermanos" (Two Brothers) and it has a grade of 5.11+ A0 800m.
 
"This has been a summer of many adventures and first ascents. This achievement has greatly motivated us and we have many more projects on the horizon and are very grateful to have experienced these unforgettable moments in the mountains. Getting to climb with your brother is definitely a great privilege. Our priorities and projects are very similar so it is easier to organize and carry out projects together, and we very much appreciate this," said Tola.
 
 
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