OverviewAt first sight of Cochamo a climber might mistaken it for a climbing playground. The horse packer has carried all the toys up the trail, a zip line ride to cross the river, waterslide waterfalls, a book of drawn cartoonish topos and maps to follow, endless fresh pizzas, the happy tinkle of climbing gear in the air, and glowing white granite towering above in all directions. One will soon discover, though, that this is the Cochamo academy where climbers come to work hard with the potential to walk away with a new route or acquired skill.
The valley is a treasure of untapped new route potential and endless adventure. Even if one is not seeking first ascents or even technical climbing, the valley offers countless adventures in hiking and river sports all based around the comforts of the newly built Refugio Cochamo and campground owned by Silvina and Daniel. .
The granite towering above the valley offers a bit of everything to climbers. In a single route one can encounter slab, splitter cracks, wet chimneys, seamed up grooves, crystal holds, bush holds, mud mining, and face climbing. There are more than 100 big wall, sport, and crack routes established on the four 1000 meter granite walls and other surrounding formations. The valley is a green chlorophyll wonderland for good reason; it rains a lot. There is a nearby crag, though, that offers dry routes during rain thanks to a huge roof. At times the crux may seem to be the steep jungle trail approaches with heavy packs. While the rock looks tantalizingly close from the valley, most of the routes require a 2-5 hour long approach and recommended high camp.
Getting ThereThe valley is located on the western slope of the Andes along the Cochamo river. Arriving in the valley is relatively easy even with massive amounts of gear. A bus ride from Puerto Montt will drop one off at the small town of Cochamo or the dirt road that heads up the valley for 6 km to the trailhead. One with loads of gear and food can wisely hire horse packers from town or along the way to the trailhead for 10,000-20,000 pesos per horse. Free from a heavy load, one can enjoy the well traveled and muddy trail up the valley and through the forest. 10km up the trail one will come to La Junta meadow and river where Daniel and Selvina offer affordable camping with the best views. Across the river they also run the Refugio Cochamó that offers baked goodies, good company, route topos/descriptions, and endless first hand beta.
Red TapePrivate Property
Hard to believe but this incredible valley is all privately owned. Respect private land and homes.
The closest hospital is located in Puerto Varas. Cochamó town provides medical assistance only for minor injuries. Getting an injured person evacuated to Puerto Varas's hospital may take at least a full day. Helicopter rescue is rare to non-existent. The Cochamó police will assist in rescues if they can be notified. Communication from the valley to town is also not guaranteed. A sat phone and radio communication is available for emergencies.
Please keep the above in mind when climbing routes. Try to learn as much as possible about your route before climbing it. Please minimize dangersous falls on new routes. Report dangerous run-outs, loose rock, bad protection and other dangers to the refugio.
Serious injuries, when treated within a given period of time, can save a lives. Remember, that these same injuries can result in death in Valle Cochamó because of the excess time and difficulties to evacuate and reach professional medical assistance.
RecomendationsRecommended climbing gear:
• ropes Bring at least two 60-meter ropes. Having more for fixed lines is helpful. The refugio has some ropes for fixing lines.
• crack gear Have one to two sets of nuts with a large assortment of micros. One to two sets of cams. One set of offsets are especially helpful. Large cams or big-bros are sometimes necesary. Camalot 4 and 5 can be rented at the refugio.
• pulleys To get to some walls, pulleys can be essential. Some trails access walls by crossing fixed lines and cables that span rivers sometimes too difficult to cross by foot.
• aid gear Many first ascents require pins, pitons and other aid gear. Beaks are some of the most commonly used pieces.
• rappel gear Many routes have not been properly equipped for raps, webbing has worn or weathered to a dangerous state. Bring extra cord (seems to last longer) and many quicklinks, especially stainless steel if you can get them.
• bolting gear Many first ascensions require bolts. Please use only stainless steal hardware and bolts at least 10mm or 3/8" in diameter. You can buy stainless steel bolts and hangers (US$2.50 the set), and rent hand drills, hammer and power drill at the Refugio Cochamó. A US$500 deposit is required for the power drill.
• portaledges Having a portaledge can be convienent on the rock especially if you get stuck in bad weather. Many climbers, however, leave the extra weight to lug around at home and decide to sleep on ledges, hang from hammocks or fix lines.
• Plan on staying at least a few weeks or month. The weather could leave you waiting for awhile, it takes time to get used to Cochamo climbing, approaches are long, and you will get sucked in longer than planned anyway.
• Rain tarps. Much more comfortable to sleep and hang out under than tents in long periods of rain. They are also convenient for high camps.
• Rubber rain boots. Buy a pair in Puerto Montt. They may seem like a clunky burden, but you will be thankful for dry feet when crossing streams and mucking around on trails.
• Bring lots of food so that you do not have to make the journey back to Puerto Montt and minimize the trash you will have to carry out.