Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Argentina Files-Part 2-Piedra Parada

So after leaving El Chalten I started quite the long bus journey to meet up with an international team of bolters in the Province of Chubut. We ended up in the town of Esquel where we were supposed to get picked up but in the confusion of no cell phones a new plan was hatched and thus we took yet another bus along a dirt road for another 4 hours. My travel companion and recently successful alpine first ascensionist in El Chalten was a Brazilian ex-pat by the name of Marcos Costa. We finally got dropped off with all of our gear on a lonely desert road and then hiked into where we were supposed to have our Base Camp. We arrived to find that the rest of the bolting team had not yet materialized due to their own bus journey calamity, and so we hiked into the extensive and long canyon of the Piedra Parada. The area is made up of 2 main features the first and namesake feature is the 100 meter tall free standing 'Piedra' and the other is the 6 kilometer canyon of volcanic rock that is a sheer 200 meter height on both sides. When we first walked in to the canyon we were absolutely stunned and amazed by the size and potential of the canyon and immediately began scoping lines (multi-pitch) that we were interest in bolting. The next day we found a crag that we wanted to bolt and we quickly learned the nature of the rock which is bi-polar to put mildly. The rock is volcanic and of similar nature to the Tablelands areas of Bishop, CA. So that means you can have some really appealing rock immediately next to the most unconsolidated mud rock that will never clean up. After 6 hours of bolting and cleaning and getting absolutely obliterated by the unrelenting Patagonian desert sun we were stumped. How are we going to make a climbing area out of this stone??? After this attempt I went to try some of the already established routes and climbed a couple 7a's and 7a+'s to see what the others had made of the area. Unsatisfied with my findings of the day and unwilling to waste another day on marginal rock I figured that I and we were better off looking for new quality rock. The canyon is just so big with so many little off shoots that it just had to be there so I grabbed my canteen and headlamp and went upon a vision quest. I spent hours and hours hiking up in slot canyons and bouncing from one side of the canyon to the other. I spent another 5 hours scouring the canyon for potential. By the end I felt much much better because I found 2 different canyons/crags that I was genuinely psyched on bolting and climbing. One was a black wall that never sees the sun(very important for me) that has very very iron saturated rock that grabs you as much as you grab it. For those rock specialists think of 'Black Mamba V10' in Hueco Tanks. The second place of interest was a beautiful ballooning cave of very huecoed, pocketed and highly streaked rock. The first wall is what I got started on right away the next day and after significantly less cleaning than the previous day I had bolted to amazing and independent lines 'There and Back Again 7a+/5.12a' and 'The Blacksmith 7c/5.12d'. The later of which was named because when I hammered at the rock I was shooting sparks everywhere as though I was striking an anvil. The climbing on the Blacksmith is so good that I had renewed faith and psyche in developing the sector. The Cueva(which is cave in Spanish)also yielded high quality routes and in such a wildly different style. I bolted the original line with my friend and bone crusher Jon Cardwell. Jon is super light and smaller guy so we decided to put him on the bottom of the route to aid it and add bolts and I went to the top and after a lot of hiking and bolting rappel stations I found where I wanted the two routes to end and got to work on bolting them. I took a bunch of work and finally I finished bolting an amazing 8b/5.13d and very difficult 8c/5.14b to start La Cueva with. After about a week of work in the Cueva I had bolted another couple routes 'Pan Blanco 8b+/5.14a' and 'Salty Peanuts 7c/5.12d'. I was also psyched because I was able to get some climbing in-between bolting sessions and as well as sending climbs that I had bolted I sent the amazing 'Dulce Duro 8a+/5.13c' which was bolted by Jon Cardwell and Marcos Costa. I had such an absolute blast with the bolting team. Most of them were from the south of France and made up of Petzl athletes and employees. 2 people I absolutely loved and really enjoyed working and laughing with was Nina Caprez and Michael Fuselier. They make a great team on there own and to be able to share routes with them and extensively make fun of each others cultures at night around the diner table will be and already is missed. I look so forward to climbing with these great people in the future. AR-staying psyched for the next adventure

1 comment:

Carla said...

The landscape there reminds me to Tandil, in the Province of Buenos Aires. Did you go there? One of the most important spots in the city is the Mount Cavalry and the Way of the Cross. Housed amidst a beautiful wooded area, the Way of the Cross consists of the sculptures of the Christ with the Cross in 14 different poses culminating with the final one of Christ on the Cross. I loved the fact that there was some place relatively to BA that was so beautiful. The, of course, I headed back to the capital. I was staying in a Buenos Aires temporary rent so everything was just the way I had left it.