Saturday, February 27, 2010

chile earthquake

thanks for all the emails checking in on us. just wanted to let everyone know that we're fine, didn't even know about the earthquake until all the emails. we're in buenos aires, flying out tonight. we got very lucky with timing and deciding to fly out of argentina instead of chile. hopefully by the time we arrive in LA things will be more settled with the tsunami warnings since we're scheduled to fly to the cook islands.

Friday, February 26, 2010

south america climbing info

since we were carrying all our climbing gear for this leg of the trip, we wanted to make the most of it and sought out places to climb wherever we were. some places it was easy to get info, others not so much. we decided it might be useful to someone in the future looking for info on these climbing areas to post what we´ve found. the following is a summary of the places we climbed in bolivia, chile, and argentina. info is current as of early 2010 and recommended climbs only include the climbs we did.

amor de dios
closest town: la paz
type of climbing: sport
type of rock: volcanic
guidebook: no, but route grades are written at the base of the routes
recommended gear: single rope, quickdraws
directions: amor de dios is located about 20 minutes SW of central la paz. you can take a bus there but it'd be hard to know where to get off. we took a taxi from town (20 Bs).
lodging: many hostels in la paz
number of climbs: good for a half day

closest town: san pedro de atacama
type of climbing: top-rope, trad
type of rock: volcanic crack climbing
guidebook: no
recommended gear: single 60 m rope, anchor material (bolted anchors), single set of cams with doubles in the mid-sized if you want to lead or establish new climbs
directions: there are a couple buses that leave san pedro for toconao in the morning (the one we took left at 9:45 am from the bus station by the soccer field, CHP $1000) buses return to san pedro at 1:30 pm and 5:00 pm. from toconao, walk back along the road to san pedro until you reach the bridge. walk about 5 minutes up the canyon and you'll start to see anchors. set up the TRs or there is a steep path before you get to the climbs that leads to rock steps and a locked gate you have to climb over into the canyon.
lodging: many options in san pedro.
number of routes: about 5 top-rope anchors but lots of potential routes if you want to lead.

closest town: cochamo, closest big town is puerto montt
type of climbing: sport, trad, aid
type of rock: granite
guidebook: no but big book of topos in the refugio
recommended gear: two ropes, full trad rack (set of stoppers, double set of cams), extendable draws, aid gear (if aiding or establishing new routes)
directions: from puerto montt take bus to cochamo (CHP $2000). we heard from others that the bus will skip the puerto varas stop if it is full, so it's best to go from puerto montt. from cochamo town, get a ride to the trailhead (9 km from town) or get off the bus at the bridge (6 km walk down a dirt road to the trailhead). hike the 10 km mud slog (4 - 6 hours) to the la junta camping area or 15 minutes further to the beautiful refugio. horses can be hired and are suggested if you have lots of gear. see the cochamo website (see below) for much more detailed info.
lodging: plenty of camping at la junta (CHP $2000/per person/night), stay in the refugio- dorms and private room, or camp/bivy at the farther climbing areas. water is safe to drink without treatment.
number of routes: enough to spend months there.
recommended routes: apnea (5.10b)

refugio frey
closest town: bariloche
type of climbing: trad
type of rock: granite spires
guidebook: yes, photocopies of r. garibotti's "guia de escaladas refugio e. frey, cerro catedral, bariloche" are available only at club andino in bariloche (20 de febrero #30) for AGP $25.
recommended gear: single 50 m rope (two ropes would significantly increase the number of routes you could climb), full trad rack (set of stoppers, double set of cams), extendable draws
directions: from bariloche take the bus to catedral (runs every 1 1/2 hours from moreno 470, AGP $6). from catedral follow the signs to refugio frey from the left end of the parking lot. trail is 10 km and takes about 3 - 4 hours.
lodging: free camping, beds in refugio (AGP $40/night). water is safe to drink without treatment.
number of routes: enough to spend months there.
recommended routes: del frente (5+) on aguja la vieja cara noreste.

los arenales

closest town: el manzano historico, 135 km SW of mendoza
type of climbing: sport, trad, bouldering
type of rock: granite
guidebook: yes, mauricio fernandez's "escaladas en mendoza, mendoza rock and ice climbing" (AGP $80), available at most of the outdoor gear shops in mendoza (on espejo, las herras).  we found many inconsistencies between the written route description and topos for the grades and lengths. we found one rap anchor on el condor pasa had been moved about 5 m.
recommended gear: two ropes, full trad rack (set of stoppers, double set of cams, at least one wide piece BD #4 or larger for some routes), extendable draws, or only quickdraws if only sport climbing.
directions: if driving, drive south of mendoza on ruta 40 to tunuyan. in tunuyan follow signs to el mazano historico (42 km). continue on dirt/ gravel road west of el mazano historico when the pavement ends. after 12 km you will reach a guard station portinari, where you need to register. the bridge over los arenales river is another 2 km further. the refugio is 1 km up the canyon from the bridge (road not passable with most cars). via public transportation, a bus runs from tunuyan to el mazano historico only on weekends. in el mazano historico you can ask for a man named yagua to drive you up to the guard station or else hike up the road.
lodging: there's a loft in the refugio (free) or plenty of camping outside. there is one good campsite by the bridge. we were told that we couldn't camp by the first curve after the guard station, despite the suggestion in the guidebook. there is plenty of water, which we filtered because of all the horses and cows in the area.
number of routes: enough to spend months there.
recommended routes: samarkanda (6a+), andante con dulfer (6a),  el condor pasa (5+).

el salto
closest town: el salto, 90 km west of mendoza
type of climbing: sport
type of rock: volcanic
guidebook: "escaladas en mendoza" (see los arenales section for where to get guidebook)
recommended gear: single rope, quickdraws
directions: take ruta 7 west from mendoza. take porterillos exit and follow signs to el salto. just before entering el salto, you will cross a bridge over a small creek. take the first right (dirt road) after the bridge. there's an abandoned building that is partially destroyed on the corner, not a police station as depicted in the guidebook. drive about 1/2 km and you will see the rock and a small parking area.
lodging: camping and cabanas available in el salto and porterillos.
number of routes: good for a day of climbing.

capilla del monte
closest town: capilla del monte, 106 km north of cordoba.
type of climbing: sport, trad, bouldering
type of rock: granite
guidebook: "guia de escalada capilla del monte cordoba" (AGP $20). we bought our copy in capilla del monte at kiosco aguando (corner of buenos aires and belgrando). book is also available in cordoba and buenos aires and other places in capilla del monte. see the GECU webpage ( for the other locations.
recommended gear: single rope, quickdraws, full trad rack (set of stoppers, double set of cams) if planning on trad climbing.
directions: for los mogotes, walk north of town about 1 km on ruta 38 until the turn-off to paseo los mogotes. walk down road until climbing area. total 4 km from the center of town.
lodging: many camping, hostel, hotel, and cabana options in capilla del monte.
number of routes: in los mogotes, a day of climbing (many routes in the guidebook are quite vegetated).

capilla del monte

we spent a couple days in capilla del monte, about 120 km north of cordoba. after talking to a tour company and deciding we didn't want to pay them $75 to take us climbing, we found a place to buy the guidebook and headed to one of the areas, los mogotes ourselves.

it's a 4 km walk from the municipal campground, so not too bad. there's a few good slab routes and lots of dirty routes or very hard ones, so we didn't end up climbing too much. we later met a local climber who said the trad climbing at another area, paredones, was really good. next time.

now we're in buenos aires for a night and fly out tomorrow night for the cook islands, via LAX. amazing how fast our time in south america has passed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

new pics

posted new pics (mainly climbing ones) from the past month. in the usual place:

arenales climbing and mendoza wine tasting

we decided to take the chance and rent a car for the week from Mendoza.  the main purpose of the car was so we could easily access the climbing area los arenales, 140 km southwest of mendoza. without a car we could only get there on weekends and it would involve a 12 km hike up a dirt road from the town manzano historico unless we could find someone to drive us up.

from bariloche we took an overnight bus to mendoza and got the car. by pure random coincidence we ran into marc, a Canadian we'd met at cochamo, on the street in mendoza. crazy.

we spent a total of 5 days at arenales. weather wasn't great, lots of low clouds, some wind but also some nice sunny days. we got in 4 good days of climbing. unfortunately we were limited again by our small rack and only one rope, so stuck mainy with sport climbs. did a couple bolted trad- like climbs, samarkanda and andante con dulfer which were really good. did a number of sport climbs including el condor pasa, a fun 5-pitch sport climb and we did see a condor while climbing. wedidnt get to do any of the longer trad climbs and nice cracks due to our limited gear. not very many people there. the book had some wrong and conflicting info about route lengths and grades which got us in trouble once on a rappel. still it was a fun few days in a nice location and it feels good to be sore from climbing again.

in the middle of our arenales trip we went up to mendoza to meet up with don and martha. had a good dinner and next day went down to maipu for some wine tasting. they did the bike thing and we visited on winery with the car then went into the andes towards the Chilean border. had a good view of aconcagua, highest mountain in south america at 22,830 feet. decided we didn't want to pay to dayhike there and camped in uspallata, where "seven years in tibet" was filmed. headed down to arenales again with a stop in el salto to do a little sport climbing on volcanic rock. place was like an outdoor gym.

only little incident we had is we lost a little piece of the bumper, we have no idea how. maybe someone previously did that and glued it back and on the dirt road it fell off. we'll see how much that costs us. 

less than a week left in argentina/ south america. we'll next head to cordoba tomorrow night and check out capilla del monte and hopefully climb, then buenos aires then onto cook islands after a 10 hour layover at LAX.

Friday, February 12, 2010

bariloche, el bolson, frey climbing

on paper it was a great plan. erick and i would stay a night in bariloche, hike our camping and climbing gear up to refugio frey, stay 2 nights, climb 1 day, then come down and meet don. we'd buy food for a week, erick and i could carry that and some of don's gear since our packs would be empty with all our gear up at frey, we'd get one great week of climbing in and then head back to bariloche so don could meet up with another friend and we'd move on.

unfortunately the infamous Patagonian weather did not cooperate. the summer weather here this year has been all messed up due to el niƱo, very wet even in usually stable areas like bariloche.

erick and i did hike our camping gear up. it was really windy (30 mph winds with 50 mph gusts) for the 2 days. got up there to a few inches of snow. spent a cold and windy and rainy day sitting in the refugio. erick went to check on the tent and it didn't look good, the stakes were pulled up from the wind and the tent was held down by rocks. so Erick moved the tent and built up the rock wall wind break.

came down and met don. forecast was windy and rainy for a few more days. decided it wouldn't be fun sitting up there in rain and heavy wind for a few days. spent a couple days in bariloche eating lots of ice cream and drinking beer. then headed down to el bolson for 2 nights, a cute laid back town a couple hours south of here. went on a hike and ate a lot.

came back to bariloche, forecast looked good. hiked up the food and gear. miraculously our tent was still intact despite the constant 30 mph winds and gusts for the 4 days we were gone. good tent. weather cleared and we got in 2 days of climbing on 3 different spires. fun climbing and nice summits. unfortunately we were going to climb this morning before we hiked out but it was cloudy and windy and people told us it was forecast to rain. so we slowly packed up and right when we started hiking out the skies cleared and it was beautiful. we continued down.

so 2 days of climbing out of 6 planned days. guess that's patagonian weather. don's meeting another friend here. erick and i will stay a couple nights then take an overnight bus to Mendoza and make our way to aranales in search of more climbing with hopefully good weather.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

photos, finally

bought a new card reader and finally posted pictures through this past week.

pics at

we're in bariloche now, hiked up a load of camping gear to refugio frey. unfortunately the weather is horrible, 40+ mph wind gusts, our tent stakes were pulled out. supposed to rain and continue being windy, but we met up with don and will hike up tomorrow and hope the weather will break so we can get a little climbing in...

Monday, February 01, 2010

some new photos

posted some new photos through the first part of bolivia (la paz, sorata, amor de dios). having problems with my card reader and can´t transfer the newer photos onto my flash drive, which is very frustrating...