The Placa Roja
, or "Red Plate" is a classic of traditional climbing in Central Chile. It is the lowest of a chain of plates, gendarmes and spires that is separated by only a few dozen meters from the Valdés Massif and sits above Lo Valdés. Placa Gris
, or "Grey Plate", and Gran Placa
, or "Big Plate" are also part of this chain. It is an outstanding playground for climbing, given its realively good rock quality and easy access from Santiago. This 250m rock face has been over the years a rite of passage for many climbers of the Central Andes.
It was first ascended by its North ridge by Carlos Sepulveda and Julio Garreaud in 1962. The following year Miguel Gomez, Jose Ambrus and Jaime Sepulveda completed the first ascent of the South ridge. It was not before 2001 that its face was fully climbed by Felipe González, Roberto Albornoz and Darío Arancibia, who put up Con la pura fe
The Placa Roja
is located across from Baños Morales in the Cajon del Maipo, which is located South-East of Santiago and can be accessed by car or by bus. If using public transport, it is possible to take a bus from the Bellavista terminal in la Florida (Santiago). The price for a round trip to Baños Morales is CLP 6,000. For more information, a link to Tur Maipo Buses is located below.
is located across the valley from Baños Morales, and can easily be located. If driving, is possible to drive right below it and park your car in widening of the road in a long curve to the left. It is then a short hike (30 to 45 minutes) to the base of the North ridge.
There are four main routes up the Placa Roja
North Ridge (5.6)
This is the easiest and most frequented route. It is 8 pitches long (30-35m each), with quality fixed anchors. It is by no means sustained climbing, as it is mostly composed of many short steep sections punctuated with several terraces. In many cases, pitches (as per belay anchors) can be combined to make for full rope-length pitches, and the first 1 or 2 pitches could easily be simul-climbed. Some sections are a bit runout, especially in pitches 6 and 8.
South Ridge (5.8/A1)
Pitch 1 (5.7, 50m):
Chimney to the col between the Placa Roja and Placa Gris. There is a bolt at the top to help set an anchor. Poor quality rock (danger of rockfall).
Pitch 2 (5.7, 45m):
Easy climb to a terrace; hard to protect.
Pitch 3 (5.7, 15m):
Traverse to the left, to the ridge.
Pitch 4 (5.8/A1, 40m):
Climb the ridge, crossing to the West face on a slab, then handcrack to a terrace.
Pitches 5-6 (5.6, 90m):
Easy climb to the summit; can be simulclimbed.
Los Tres Chiflados, or "The three nuts" (5.10)
5 pitches: 5.8; 5.7 45m; 5.9 35m; 5.10 50m; 5.8 50m.
Con La Pura Fe, or "With pure faith" (5.9/A3)
6 pitches: A3; 5.8/A2+; 5.9/A1; 5.8/A1; 5.9/A2; 5.8/A1
When to Climb
Climbs on the Placa Roja
are best done from November to April, although it is not uncommon to find teams climbing the North ridge in winter. Summers in Central Chile are generally warm and dry, so the vast majority of days are with bright sunshine and good to climb!
There is no red tape for climbing the Placa Roja
. Climbers should take caution with leaving gear in sight in the car or unattended at the base of the climb.
Link to Tur Maipo Buses here
Link to (very) rough topos of the South ridge, Los tres chiflados
and Con la pura fe