Photographer: Thomas Senf

Between storm and silence

Riders on the Storm

Ines Papert, one of the strongest female alpinists in the world, takes her audience on a fascinating journey through her multifaceted world of alpinism.

She follows the footsteps of legends into a rugged headwall in Patagonia, takes her son into the Canadian wilderness and repeats one of the hardest alpine mixed-routes in dizzying heights. Her audience partakes in her free ascents on Cima Grande in the Dolomites and climbs a new route on Mt. Waddington in Canada. Papert takes the path less beaten, shifts the realm of what is possible with her iron will and shows what it means to be an extreme climber and mother.

„Riders on the Storm“ means fulfilling a long-time dream for Papert. After years of dedicated preparation she is ready to face tough alpine walls and uncertain weather. She talks about the Dolomites where she is the first to free a route through the north face of the Große Zinne in one of the rainiest summers. Papert's lively and honest way of telling her stories let her audience feel the physical and mental hardships she constantly faces to reach her goals. She speaks fondly of her ice tools and her send of a 250 meter long crack roof in Switzerland. She climbs "Ritter der Kokosnuss" along a row of hanging icicles and accomplishes her climb of one of the hardest mixed-routes in traditional climbing manner. Papert also talks about traditions in climbing as well as in her Bavarian home of Berchtesgaden and gives us honest glimpses of her private life.

Scenes from her family life show the importance of her role as mother. She describes how she took off to the Canadian wilderness with her son to show him her world of solitude and quiet. You can tell that it is the greatest joy for her to see her son follow in her footsteps. She explains her fear about him, which she tries to fade-out while staying aware of her responsibility. Breathtaking pictures from Canada document the adventurous time and the unique bond that connects Papert and her 13-year-old son on the steep walls in the Rocky Mountains.

Responsibility is a constant companion during Papert's endeavors. The impressive pictures of her first ascent with Mayan Smith-Gobat on Mt. Waddington in Canada show just how little room for error there is and how close-knit you have to work with your team for weeks with little room in steep rock faces. That's why every friendship and everyone she ties in with are under Papert's close scrutiny. She instantly feels that she has found the right partner for "Riders on the Storm" with Mayan.

They head to Patagonia together. They follow in the footsteps of climbing legends as they attempt to claim the first free ascent of the historical big-wall route "Riders on the Storm." The 1300 meter high east face of the Torre Central in Torres del Paine challenges the women to exhaustion.

Papert gives her audience insight into the past of the legendary route and pays tribute to its first ascencionists Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold and their team who took on the challenges of the wall and the storms back in 1991.

Iced-over cracks, complex climbing, few possibilities to place protection and the Patagonian storms propose unimagined challenges. Papert passionately tells of her deprivation and the creativity needed to almost free the route with magnificent pictures and videos. Papert says: "Never before did it seem necessary to use a climbing shoe and an ice shoe with crampon at the same time. But the 18. pitch left me no other choice. This technique was completely new to me, maybe this is a new term that I coined - "to papert up?"

The moment in which a piece of rock the size of a refrigerator comes flying down past the two sleeping women, destroying their portaledge, shows the amount of danger Papert and Smith-Gobat are constantly in. She asks herself the question how far she can actually go before putting her team and herself in danger and draws her consequences.

The dangers are forgotten for a moment as the two women reach the highest point. Papert: "I would really call this peak moment magical. It's hard to put into words what we saw up there. Countless glacier lakes in all sorts of greens and blues, snow-covered peaks as far as the eye could see, steep rock faces in all directions, an endless vastness and the inland ice in the other direction." The breathtaking images of Papert's experiences put a spell on the audience and let it be part of the fantastic adventures of Ines Papert.

Papert will be available for questions after her presentation and will of course sign posters and books.

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