Alfredo Gago, Spain
Brian Martens, Colorado
Ian Whorall, Montana
Sean Post, Massachusetts
Kine Denstad, Norway (left course Dec 20th)
Gabe Kelley (me) Alaska
Jordan Lamarche, Canada
Brett Savage, Ireland (left course Nov 29th)
Day 1-5: Coyhaique
Day 6-14: Porto Ibanez
Day 15-16: Coyhaique
Kine and Alfredo Cerro Makay
Day 17-21: Bariloche
Day 22-28: Frey (Refugio just outside of Bariloche)
Day 29-35: Cochamo
Day 36-37; On the road
Day 38-42 Coyhaique
First 5 days
Day 1 - 11/16/11
Top rope climbing at NOLS Crag.
Day 2 - 11/17/11
Lead climbing at NOLS Crag.
How to clip
Everyone lead at least once
Hang water bottle by a sling to back of harness to learn slow balanced moves while on lead.
Day 3 - 11/18/11
Bouldering at Boulder behind Lipigas warehouse in Coyhaique.
No hands or one hand climbing
Movement and body positioning on rock
Escaping a belay at base camp (Munter/Mule)
Day 4 - 11/19/11
Building EARNEST anchors at base camp
Rappelling at NOLS Crag
-Practice guiding clients with no experience through a stacked rappel
Day 5 - 11/20/11
Planning and Packing for 8 days climbing trip to Ibanez
Porto Ibanez 11/21 - 11/28
We stayed on Geraldos farm. Geraldo is a German gringo. He is very talkative and absolutely hilarious. I think he is always excited to have people camp there because he has someone to talk to. Porto Ibanez isn't really a town, more of a location. There is a beautiful waterfall (salto) right before you get to the farm. Garaldo also brews beer, and sells it. He was in between batches while we were there so we didn't get to try it. From what I hear he has a reputation for some amazing beer.
Day 1: Climbed 3 newer routes a stones throw from camp. Fun routes, but a little dirty
Day 2: Went to the Swiss Cheese Wall. You can top rope there. The wall is super loose and dirty. They climbs were okay but so dirty it didnt feel safe. We dont plan on going back to this area again.
Day 3: El Maintenal. This area is really cool and worthwhile. There are lots of bolted routes, no need for a rack. We just spent the day top ropeing. The rest of the days we went here unless otherwise stated.
Day 4: Practiced placing gear in a crack on top rope. Tried some other routes on top. Learned and practiced cleaning sort anchors.
Day 5: Lead climbing day! We practiced leads. We all took at least one fall, which was part of the plan. Try to get used to lead falls. (For my friends and family that don't know what lead falls are. Lead climbing is when you start on the ground with the rope and clip the rope to the rock as you climb. If you fall while climbing there is a bit of free fall before the rope catches you. It is scary but safe most of the time, especially in a controlled environment like we had here. It is important to get somewhat comfortable with these falls.)
Day 6: Weather day. I have never been anywhere with Blue skys and sideways rain. I think the wind blows the rain in from far far away. Weird shit. We practiced Belay escapes,and transferring belays.
Escaping the belay
Day 7: Climbed, practiced multi pitch on a two pitch climb. Worked some hard climbs, Got pumped.
Day 8: Rainy, got picked up at noon to go back to Coyhaique
2 days in Coyhaique 29th and 30th of Nov
Day 1: Sorted gear
Day 2: 5 pitch climb in Coyhaique on Cerro Makai
Basraloche Dec 1- 5
Pee break after crossing the boarder
Day 1: Drive to Bariloche. Sean lost his visa extension paperwork so getting into Argentina was difficult. We hung out at the border for 2 hours drinking mate while the border patrol sent emails to the office in Coyhaique to get them to email the paperwork.
There was a lot of nothing for a long time once we crossed the boarder. Finally we got to some small town and the gas station was out of gas. The van or the White Whale as we call it goes through a lot of gas. When we made it to the next small town they could only give us a small amount of gas. We never ran out and pulled into Bariloche late. We parked the White Whale at a large camp ground by the lake
Day 2: Climbed, practiced placing pro. Did a few leads on pre placed trad gear. Afterwards we went into town and Jordan bout the most ludicrous mate gourd I have ever seen, its a cow hoof. It immediately got many names (Stink Foot, the hoof formally known as Bessy, The Cameltoe). Drinking from it makes you feel like a tru balla.
Me climbing in Bariloche
Day 3: Rest Day. Spent a lot of time walking around Bariloche. There was live music playing in the plaza. We went for a listen, it was definitely heavily Jesus influenced.
Day 4: Climbed, built multi directional trad anchors. Easy trad leads. Had a barbeque at the camp ground. Jordan and I jumped off the dock into the lake in the middle of the night.
Bariloche is beautiful
Day 5: Climbed. Practiced placing trad. We all went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant and buy a week of groceries for Frey.
Frey December 6-12
Day 1: Woke up packed camp and drove to Cerro Cathedral (the ski area). We spent hottest part of the day sweating our asses off hiking to Frey. It is very dry and dusty. The hike took about 3.5 hours. The last part is uphill and has great solar exposure. When we got to the Refugio we oggeled at all the spires for an hour then jumped into the lake. Frey is the first refugio I have been to, these things are amazing. If your unfamiliar they are small shelters in the middle of nowhere with a few beds you can pay to stay in and they serve pizza and beer. What more can you ask for. Word to the wise, the winds can get gnarly so if you are going to camp for a while put your tent on the slope facing towards the trail, and away from the lake.
We broke into 3 teams, Brian and I, Jordan and Ian, Alfredo Sean and Kine. Brian and I climbed Aguija Frey. Aguija Frey's north face stares down on the Refugio. There is a beautiful line going up the middle of the face. 5 pitches, that tops out with an incredibly aesthetic hand crack and then a few face moves to the summit. Ian lead up right be hind me while Alfredo climbed Diadro de Jim which a two pitch climb just to lookers right of our route. We came down and switched routes with Alfredo.
Sean on Diadro de Jim
Diadro de Jim is a fun dihedral crack for the first pitch. The second pitch is a ridiculous hand crack going up the otherwise black face to the top. This second pitch was a highlight, I just wish it continued for a few hundred feet more. I lead the first pitch, Brian followed. I wanted to continue lead on the second but Brian told me I couldn't. When I asked why not he said "because its my turn and I want it". Fair play mate.
After those two climbs we came down to the refugio for lunch. Jordan and Ian hadn't gone up Diadro de Jim so they went to climb that while the rest of the crew went to go do a single pitch near by called Plantitas Denigrantes 6b+. This was probably my favorite pitch we climbed on the whole trip, there is a close second in Cochamo on the Zebra Wall but I will get to that later. Plantitas Denigrantes starts with a few easy face moves to a overhanging dihedral with a bomber hand crack. Then the is a fat flake that off width from the face that sort of stair steps up, great lie back. The route tops off with an awkward seal hump maneuver to a nice ledge. Brian lead it first, the off width lie back and no reliable pro, so it was committing and a little scary. I followed and loved it. Alfredo lead to us on a second rope. The belay ledge was pretty crowded so when Alfedo went for the top out his torso was smushed in by our feet and he was fully gripped "Te puta madre! Give me you hand, ahhh, hurry" Alfedo said as he squirmed around our feet. Brian and I immediately had a plethora of hands feet and anchor material to pull on. "Give me that! NO! I do it in rock!" and he pulled through the move and spawned the saying we quoted for the rest of the trip "I do it in rock!".
Rest day. We slept in, worked the slack line, enjoyed the warm weather, and meet some cool people from all over the world. We got to be good friends with a Canadian named Skyler who was there on his own and always looking for climbing partners. Unfortunately because we are using the schools gear we cant really let other people climb with us. Skyler was good on the Ukalayly and he jammed with Brian on his Mandolin, hours of entertainment.
Today we climb El Principal. It is the tallest peak. 6a, 100 m, normal route.
7 AM up
8:30 We left camp
11:00 at the base.
Alfredo lead first while Jordan and I followed. Ian Lead next and Sean followed him. Brian Lead last and Kine followed him. The climb is 6 pitches
1) 4, 15 meters. Easy piezy chimney start followed by a few face moves. Not much protection as I recall but easy climbing
2) 4, 15 meters. Watch the rope drag. walk to climbers left 5 meters then take the obvious line. easy climbing. There is an anchor that Alfredo used but I think Ian and Brian skipped it.
15 meter Ridge walk with large expose on both sides.
3)5+ 30 meters. This is where the fun starts. There is a crack that is directly in line with the ridge. About 7-10 meters up it goes off width and well, its off width. For those who don't climb it means the crack is to large to jam your hand or fist in to hold on so you do some wacky scary weird maneuvers to jam any part of your body into the crack to create enough friction so that you can somehow hold your own body weight. above the off width ther is a small roof. Climb to the left about 3 feet. Tops out on a big ledge. Very nice pitch.
3 alt) 30 meters. There is a slightly easier crack with out off width to the climbers left maybe 15-20 feet. I didn't climb it but Brian did while Ian was struggling with the off width.
4) 5, 20 meters. Start by walking 10 meters to the climbers right, stop before you go around the corner and out of sight. There are a few cracks at the start that go to fingers at the top (for non climbers this means the crack is just big enough to put your fingers in but not your whole hand). There is a piton as your start to trend to climber right. The top of the pitch has some interesting chimney moves and top out through a pinch to a cool belay that is like the inside of a box.
5)4, 20 meters. Starts with 3 meters of easy vertical moves then 17 meters of easy non vertical climbing.
6)6a, 10 meters. Final pitch is all bolted, starts of with nice face moves and spirals its way up to the climbers left. The last 3 or 4 bolts are delicate slab moves. Top of the peak is about 10 meters by 2 meters. There is a repel anchor on one of the ends (it might make more sense once your there). We hung out on the summit for probably almost an hour. There were two condors circling us very close. It was really cool. Very hot, and almost no wind.
Brian Starting pitch 6
Top out final pitch!
The way down Jordan, Alfredo and I went first with our two ropes. The other four went together with the other two ropes. We repelled to the top of the 4th pitch then pulled the rope. The other guys skipped down to the top of the 3rd pitch and got their rope stuck when they pulled it. Brian climbed to get it. Frey likes to do this. I think they ended up getting their rope stuck somewhere else as well but I don't remember.
6 PM back at camp.
Sean was not feeling well in the morning. We grabbed our gear and walked about 10 minutes until we got to a huge boulder. We found some cracks to practice building a variety of anchors. We learned the kiwi coil and practiced running belays and placing protection. The weather turned to crap so we went to hang out at the refugio. After dinner we went back to the refugio to drink wine. Brian found the guitar at the Refugio and started jamming with a local Argentinian who was playing the drum. Brian is a talented musician and all the employes at the refugio were loving the performances.
Day 6: The weather was windy and a little bit rainy. Sean was really feeling bad, anything he ate came back up. Jordan was feeling mediocre. I on the other hand was feeling great and was board. We worked on some rescue scenarios in the morning.
In the afternoon the weather opened up a small window so Brian and Alfredo went to climb Aguija Frey while Ian and I went to climb Dieado de Jim. I lead both pitches. It was really nice to get on something, I was going crazy at camp. On they way down we got our rope stuck about 20 feet from the ground. Ian climbed back up to get it. We went back to camp and packed up.
Diadro de Jim
Day 7: Woke up at 8, ate some breakfast and packed up. Once we got back to the van we went to a hostile in Bariloche and stayed there for the night. Never stayed in a Hostile before which is sort of supprising, but it was really cool. We planned to wake up eairly the next morning to head to Cochamo.
Cochamo December 13-20
Resting for Cochamo
Day 1 (The Drive): We woke up at 6 and ate breakfast at the hostile. While everyone was eating I hopped online and bought my family Christmas presents online, not the best presents but they would be there for Christmas so I figured they would be impressed. This bit of the story will show up again later.
At 7:30 we were on the road. Crossing the boarder was a lot smoother this time because we all had our paperwork. Brian and Jordan were starting to feel sick and Shawn was still feeling like crap, he must have lost 10 pounds in the last few days. After the boarder we stopped at a huge grocery store to buy food for Cochamo. This turned out to be a shit show because no one was really certain how many days we should shop for and Kine was going to leave Cochamo early so that she could fly to Canada for Christmas with her boy friend. Brian was feeling really sick now and stayed in the van in the underground parking lot. We were also trying to figure out weather or not we could hire a horse to carry our gear, if so we can bring better, heavier food. Finally we settled on 7 days of food and we were able to hire one horse to carry a total of 60 kg of gear. Awesome.
After paying for the groceries we went to the underground parking lot to find Brian passed out in the back and 2 enormous piles of puke 10 feet from the van. It was time to leave.
We pulled up the the trail head for Cochamo in the evening. There wasn't really a parking lot, but there was a property with a bunch of cars parked there and some sort of sign about a sauna. No one was home so we opened the gate parked the car and set up camp for the night.
Day 2: The weather was beautiful. A gaucho came by at 8 am to meet us. We packed all the group technical gear (4 ropes and two racks) and all of our personal technical gear (shoes, harnesses, beaners ect) into two duffels. The gaucho loaded it onto a horse and off he went. We started hiking and the area was gorgeous. It feels like a jungle. The trail is very muddy, I was glad to be wearing shorts and sandals. There is a river or two that have no bridges. The ones with bridges are really cool. The horse flies on the trail were pretty thick, it was hard to stop for long so the group got split up. Alfredo in the front, Ian and I behind him.
The weather was so hot, the Cochamo river that trail parallels was enticing. Ian and I were hoping to find some cliff jumping into the river. As we got closer we started to see the infamous giant walls of Cochamo. We were getting excited to say the least. We stopped for a water break. I had to fix my sandal so Ian got ahead of me, which was too bad for him. Two minutes past our stop I found a perfect spot for cliff jumping right next to a Tyrolin over the river with a cart attached. I had to stop for a jump.
Fogon at la Junta camp site
The campsite was nice, flat, grassy, and trees for shade. The view from camp is spectacular with huge walls in every direction, just standing there made my heart race. There was a beautiful fogon (open air cabin) with runnuin water in a sink, and a fireplace. Kine and I dropped our bags and followed the signs to the Refugio. It took us to the river where a tyrolian was set up with a cart to sit in. This place just gets more amazing every minute. From the other side of the river it was a 2 minute walk through the forrest to the refugio. There were two slack lines set up outside and the sign at the porch asks every one to remove their shoes. Ian and Alfredo were having a beer so I got one as well and meet a man named Danial. At the time I had no idea but the refugio belonges to him. Really nice guy and was giving us all sorts of good advise about were to go for climbing. He has a huge binder with climbing topos. Daniel is a hippy climber who just wants everyone to come and have a good time. Daniel keeps nothing a secret, he was happy to tell us the best places to climb for our goals.
Once everyone got to the refugio we all spent half an hour bathing in our excitement. There was a little bouldering wall on the porch, and it was all home made with wooden holds. Alfredo, Ian, Jordan, Kine, and I went up to the the luna wall for some single pitch sport climbs. It was only a 15 minute walk from the refugio. Sean and Brian were both recovering but were not quite ready to exert themselves. The climbs were hard but fun. The horse flies (tabanos) were crazy, I have never in my life seen so many. It made belaying as challenging as climbing. We found two routes, the easier to the far climbers left and one just left of the trail head. Both were really fun. there are many routes, I didn't count, maybe 10-15. The harder climb we did had a cruxy start. The route had alot of variaty and was rather long.
By the time we started walking back it was starting to get dark. We had to headlights and we learned one of the most important rules of Cochamo: "If you lose the trail, stop, go back, and find it". Once off the trail there is an abundance of bushwhacking through thick bambo and spiky plants and knee deep mud. Stay on the trail.
We slept in and had the morning off Brian and Sean were both feeling a lot better. We meet at 4 in the afternoon to discus our plans. We planed to climb E-Z Does It
the next day. E-Z Does It
is a 350 meter 9 pitch 5.10d climb up Cerro Trinidad. After packing and having an early dinner we started on the 2 hour trek to the base of Trinidad. The route is visible from the camp area and refugio, and we were all beaming with excitement. The hike in is amazing. There are some big rivers to cross via fallen trees with a questionable hand rail on one side. The kind of thing that you are careful but feel comfortable and would never be allowed in the states. The trail its self is worth the hike. The forest/jungle has some enormous tress and an abundance of plant life.
The canopy supplied us with an abundance of shade from the gorgeous weather. It is better to walk slowly then rest because the horse flies were so thick.
At the bass of Cerro Trinidad
Once we got to the base of the mountain our energy levels went even higher, it seems the be the theme of our Cochamo experience. We Spent the next hour just staring at Trinidad and The Gorrila (a huge wall staring at us from the West. As the night set we put up camp and sleep a few hours.
5 AM we were up and by 6:15 we were hiking. The day starts with traversing tree line to lookers left until we got into a gully dubbed "The Gully of Crap" and aptly named as I will later explain. The Gully of Crap runs between Trinidad and Elefante (Mountain the the NE). The gully is about 20-40 feet wide and fully of incredibly lose rock. We put on our helmets for this. We dislodged many rocks on the way up, some as big as a mini fridge. I ended up in a small rock slide but it didn't go far. Hiking up the steep gully was tiring, not so much from the steepness or elevation gain, but because we had to move so delicately. Once we were about three quarters of the way up the Vally of Shit we got to the botom of the climb. It starts with some 4th class scrambling for 60-80 meters to the first pitch.
Slabby first pitch
--p1: 5.10b 30 meters. The first move of the day may have been the scariest. It starts out with 20-30 feet of slab with a single bolt two thirds of the way up and no natural protection. Alfredo climbed first with Kine and Sean following. The bolt seemed to be placed poorly. Even on top rope, the slabby climb to the bolt had a pendulum fall that would cause the follower to hit the deck. After the bolt the route has 10 more feet of slabby climbing before walking to the right. After uncliping the bolt again, there is a potential pendulum swing to the deck. This was really scary for everyone, and the first pitch may have been the slowest. Brian lead second and I followed. After I uncliped the bolt I actually started to barn door. Adrenalin pulsed through my body and time went into slow motion. I figured with 2 sideways hops I could ride the pendulum 20 feet to the deck and land on my feet. I grabbed my rope (I am on top rope) with my right hand to help keep control. Though I don't understand the physics of it somehow this stopped my barn door, and I quickly used my adrenalin to move through. Wheh! Once about the sloppy bit the route walks 30 feet to right then continues up 30 feet of 5.10 moves to the natural anchor (for those non climbers anchors can be bolted with metal bits in the rock or natural which means you make your own removable anchor with your gear).
--p2: 5.9 35 meters. This pitch may have been the most interesting because there was running water on some of the route. Unfortunately you had to put your feet in it. The running water runs behind a block that we used as a lie back crack. Ian said when he got to it he yelled down to Jordan "I think I am going to have to do a porpoising body jam through the river". Haha, the crack was big enough to body jam into, but I don't know that you would be able to see or breath for about 7 feet of this movement (Here is a picture from Cochamo.com of the lie back with when its dry
). Ian decided to go with the lie back, wise choice Ian. This pitch has a lot of funky maneuvers.
--p3: 5.7 60 meters. The easiest pitch, but run out. I think Brian placed 2 cams on this pitch. Starts with a nice left facing crack which is the crux of the pitch and can be protected. Then there is a long ramp of easy climbing to the top of the pitch with minimal protection.
--p4: 5.10 b/c 40 meters. Not much to say about this pitch. Trend left and look for an orange spot on the rocks, maybe 2-3 feet in diamiter. Then trend right.
--p5: 5.10b 30-40 meter. Alfedo got of route here and was very unhappy. We heard many new spanish curse words we didn't understand and references to Lucas (his 2 year old son). Things were not looking good. There seemed to be 3 options, A left facing crack on the left, an inviting crack in the middle which Alfredo took, and a right facing crack to the right, which we took. The route the rest of the group took started with the nice right facing crack (hand? dont remember) Then towards the top turns into many finger and finger tip cracks, very fun, for us. Make sure not to go to high, it can be easy to miss the 6th pitch and end up on a harder 5.11 older route.
--p6: 5.10d 60 meters. From the top of pitch 5 you are going to look for an obvious left facing crack. We had to move left and down about 6 feet to get onto it. This pitch is the crux of the route and absolutely mind blowing. The moves are mostly lie back on a crack that varies from chimney to hand for the first 40 meters. With in the first few meters at the chimney with there is a move everyone did where they ended up climbing with their back to the main wall and right leg wrapped around the arret. This move looked very backwards but worked well. The next 10 meters is great finger crack. The last bit is a sloppy traverse with a bolt in the middle. I thought it was the crux of the pitch, but I am not very confident with slab climbing. The pitch is beautiful, though it is hard, the moves are clean. A lot of the moves on the first 3 pitches were really weird and awkward making them almost more difficult then this pitch.
Sean finishing pitch 7
--p7: 5.10b 35 meters. Let me just say wow. Another amazing pitch. Pitch 6 and 7 are my favorite. This pitch starts with a delicate finger/hand crack that works its way up to the right. Then you get into a left facing dihedral that turns into a ceiling dihedral. You follow underneath the ceiling to the left. The ceiling dihedral ends at a large corner that you can not see around until your there. Once you get to the edge you can see the last 8 feet of traverse into a cave. Wow. This last bit of traverse has good hands while your feet smear. There are some big chalk stones that look lose but are solid. This is the spot for pictures. I struggled through pitch 6 and 7 due to complete exhaustion. My whole body had been worked. If we had come and done just pitches 6 and 7 I think I would have done alright but the approach and first 5 pitches wore me out. Even though I was pooped I absolutely loved these pitches.
Sean climbing out the back of the cave on pitch 8
--p8: 5.10a 15 meters. Walk to the back of the cave and climb towards the light! No joke, set belay when you emerge. Some fun moves thought here
--p9: 5.8 50 meters. Go up and lightly right of the hole to the cave. The Most of this pitch is a fun easy chimney climb.
Scramble to the summit!
For more route info click here
Sean, Kine, and Alfredo at the summit
I don't know what made my happier, the summit itself, or the source of ice cold water at the summit. We were all quite dehydrated by this point in time. Turns out it takes a long time to get a group of 7 up a big climb. The 7 of us enjoyed to summit together for about 15 minutes. Would have been happy to hang out longer but we still have alot ahead of us. We still have to get down.
The route down involves alot of unroped down climbing and two rappels to the top of the Gully of Crap. The first rapel can be done with one rope but the second is mach large and two ropes are needed. After the 2nd repel we all got pretyy spread out. Alfredo was first, me second, then Kine, Jordan, Sean, Ian, and Brian. When at the entrance to the Gully of Crap go to the rigth at the cliff on top. I had Alfredo to yell direction at me from below. There is a fixed rope here. I used it as a hand rope, pretty sketchy. Kine was smart, she put a purssic on the rope, I would do that next time. From there it didn't really get any better. It wasn't quite as steep but there wasn't fixed ropes, and the rock was so loose. I didnt like being so spread out. Kine and I ended up going together. Alfredo stoped when he got to the packs and turned his headlamp on as the light was starting to dim. As we worked down this sketchy mine filed of loose boulders we looked up to see that Sean had managed to get himself stuck in the fixed rope down climb. We were too far away to see but later he explaind that the rope got stuck so he had to wait for Ian and Brain to catch up and help him out.
I felt very unsafe working down the Gully of Crap. I felt then it was not unlikely to dislodge a boulder the size of a couch to the bottom of the gully, and Alfredo was camped in the middle. There was really no choice but to continue as carefully as possible. When Kine and I finally did get to Alfredo we moved way off to the side, safe from anything that might rocket down the gully. As we waited for the rest of the group to ketch up night fell.
We didn't waste much time organizing the ropes and racks into our packs so we could keep moving. Now we had to go down the rest of the Gully of Crap, the part we climbed up in the morning. It was more mellow then the top but still sketchy. Now we traveled as a group. Towards the bottom of the gully we argued a bit about weather or not we had passed the exit back to our bivy at the base of Trinidad. I had made a note of elevations on my altimeter and was quite sure we had another 100 meters to descend, and I was right. I love being right. We got back to our bivy at midnight. There was another group there asleep so we kept as quite as possible while we congratulated each other, had some food, and stretched out our legs.
Woke up at the Bivy around 10AM. We all sort of left when ever we were ready. Sean and I were at the back of the group. When we got back to the vally I wanted a beer. Sean and I went to the refugio and I ordered a liter of beer (the only size they sell it in). With little food in my stomach and exhausted this beer hit me hard. About half way through the rest of the group showed up wondering where we were. More beer was ordered, so by 4 in the afternoon I was tuned up pretty well. The weather was hot so it was time to do something. Jordan, Sean, Kine, and I walked back to camp, grabbed some form of swim wear. To our surprise Skyler from Frey was there. He joined us for our adventure to the water slides we had heard of. From Camp you walk up the river about 1 minute until you get to a tributary river. Crossing this river was just over knee deep and about 20 feet wide. From there you just walk 2-5 minutes up river towards the sound of a waterfall. Easy to find. Here there is a waterfall over a smooth granite slab. Cross the river at the bottom and go up the side. There were about 6 people there already. I felt like a child running laps up and down the all natural water slide. We didn't have any cameras but check out this video
someone else posted on youtube.
We went to the Zebra wall. The Zebra wall is a 15 minute walk to the NW of the fogon. The climb we did was a beautiful two pitch crack. Unfortunatly the crux is the first move, I hate that.
The first pitch starts off as a finger crack. About 20 feet up a huge block cratse a right facing dihedral hand crack. The crack make a Y split. I ended up puting my right hand in the left crack and my left hand in the right crack, really fun movements. The first pitch tops out on top of the block with a bolted anchor.
The second pitch is an easy finger crack that is low angel. It tops out in fingertips. We climbed the second pitch multiple times, great easy fun. Beautiful view of the camp and the river.
While we were waiting for out turn we practiced assisting a second that cant climb through a section.
Skyler showed up just after us. Ian gave him a belay but he only got about half way up the first pitch before it started raining. On the way down we lost the trail, I said lets go back and find it, Ian said, no were close lets just go this way. Typical Ian. We ended up Thigh deep in mud. Once again, when you lose the trail, go back and find it.
Kine took off in the morning. She had to get back to Coyhaique for a flight to Canada to visit her boyfriend. GS3 is down to 3 members for the last part of class. The was light rain in the morning so we decided to go to Pared Seca, an area recommended by Daniel for when its raining. Pared Seca is sport climbs in a cave so it is dry. There is so much protected dry rock in this area. It takes about 30 minutes to walk there. The trail goes North from camp going up river on river right. There is a really cool bridge on the way.
The climbs at Pared Seca are hard but very fun. We found two really good routes. One was right where the trail meets the rock. It was short, overhanging, and jugular. The route was probably 5.9 but I dont know the offical rating. It is about 15-20 meters. The other climb was about 40 meters to the left. It was a right facing fingertip crack. Feet smear on nothing. The climb is very hard to red point, I think everyone feel on it except Ian. It was only about 10 meters but really fun.
Overcast. We went back to Pared Seca to learn Aid climbing. Alfredo gave and example then each of us gave it a try on a bolted route. After we climbed it was back down to camp to pack up. The weather forecast is for lots of rain so we decided to get out. We packed up and left camp by 5PM. We were at the van by 8PM and it started pouring rain. Our timing was perfect. We very quickly loaded up the van and drove a few hours to Puerto Varas. We stayed in a hostel that night. Very pretty but touristy town.
On the Road December 21-22
Day 1: Woke up early and left Puerto Varas. The border crossing was smooth. We stopped in Bariloche for 2 hours to get something to eat. Then we continued south. I have no idea the name of the city we camped in. It was late so we just bivyed. It rained on us.
Alfredo work up to small children throwing rocks at him. He was pissed. We all got going eairly in the morning, I love road trips. Finding gas before the vast nothingness was dificult, the same pumps that were empty on our way up were still empty. Border crossing went well and We were back at base camp on December 22nd
Coyhaique December 23-27
We went climbing at NOLS Craig and practiced some rescue scenarios. Everything went well.
Since we now have a 1-1 student to guide ratio we went to Cerro Makay to do a client from hell scnario. The students were guides on a five pitch sport climb and the instrucors were first time climber clients. We had to teach them how to belay, unclip quick draws, clean anchors, and some basics of movement. They screwed up everywhere they could.
Brian was my client. After I climbed the second pitch and called off belay Brain tied some knots in the rope that got stuck in the first draw. I had to explain to him to pull the rope back and untie the knots, he said he just wanted to practice his knots. This was a little frustrating, but only the begining. He kept trying to climb past quick draws, so I had to tell him to unclip when he was in a good spot. He also got to tired to climb on the 3rd pitch so I had to use a drop loop to assis him. Before the 5th pitch he dropped his belay device so I gave him my ATC and I used a munter hitch. The 5th pitch has one crux move so I put in a double length sling with some knots for Brian to pull on, he was stoked about that.
At the top we had some lunch, beautiful day. We did stacked rappels (A stacked rappel is when all the people are set up ready to rappel and then go one at a time. That way the client doesn't have to do anything, the only way he could screw up is if he started uncliping carabiners which I made vary clear that if he valued his life he wouldn't) for the first four raps. Brian managed to get something stuck mid rappel so I had to ascend the rope and help him fix it. The last rappel he wanted to go first so I let him with a back up prussic. We made it safely, I was able to fix all the problems Brian tried to create.
Dirt bag Christmas tree
Christmas! GS4 was off course and most of them were still hanging at base camp. Noah, Will, Ian, and Linus from GS1 were there as well so we had a huge potluck. We cut down a tree and decorated it with rock protection and slings. The angel on the top consisted of a magazine cut out of a beautiful rock climber girl pasted onto cardboard and attached to the top of the tree. We did a 1000 peso ($2 USD) gift exchange. Someone was somehow able to get 3 beers and 4 cigs for this price which was regarded as the best present. It was really fun. Ben and Jaya joined us for the event (The program directors).
Jaya at the gift exchange
Went to El escudo, an area of Cerro Makay, to try and put up a new route. We found what looked like a good line. Alfredo went to the top, put in a bolted anchor and rapped down. He sent up a second traditional anchor. He continued down to a second traditional anchor. We are looking at a three pitch climb. We took turns ascending the fixed ropes, whacking loose rocks with hammers and scraping vegetation and dirt with a wire brush. I got to put in the bolt in to replace of of the anchors with bolts.
We came back to El Escudo. More of the same. Lots of work. We learned a lot, and this is good because we are planing to put a new route up in Cochamo in March and April for out Plan Your Own Expedition. Look for the upcoming trip report!