When it rains in the mountains ones options are limited.
If your in North Wales you can sometimes avoid the rain on the coast at Gogarth or go sport climbing on the Orme. If you are in the Lakes and the weather's bad its harder.
Around Lago General Carrera however things are different. Looking out from the balcony the promised mountains were cloaked in cloud. Somewhere out there lay Mt St Valentine and its great unclimbed face. There was to be no climbing in the mountains today. Today we would have to go with Plan B.
This was Plan B.
|La Pirámide above Chile Checo|
Anywhere else Plan B would be Plan A.
After paying a trespass fee of a bottle of tequila to the local Gaucho we abandoned the pickup and strolled into the Jeinimeni National Park and up towards the geological feature dubbed la pirámide. We were not the first to climb here. Jim had brought others before and was keen to pit his new recruits against the route they had put up in 2010.
Our experiences carrying loads to the Torres Glacier made this feel like a path. The tussocks of grass and Huánuco paths proved preferable to mobile moraine and glacier and we soon crested the rise to the camping spot by some springs below the pirámide. After we erected our tent the setting sun caught the prow of the feature, a clear master line and enticed us into running our gear up the final talus slope to the base of the crag. In the fading light we peered upwards. This was amazing.
The next morning it seemed appropriate to repeat the existing line. It would be a nod to those before us and more importantly it would allow us to scope the cliff, to view those other cracks from above and below. Four pitches of steep jamming later we made easy ground and scrambled to the top in time to watch two condors catching thermal soar around us. We were impressed, the rock was good, the lines were good and the situation was amazing. Even better some new lines had leapt out at us.
|John climbing on the Ultimate Basault Experiance|
The main prow we had seen highlighted by the deepening shadows looked possible. It would involve escaping from the deep cracks and getting onto the faces of the hexagonal features. There did appear to be small seams between the columns to allow trad gear. The prow flowed upwards, slabby to start but steepening. The first proper ledge was at sixty meters height. After some debate we swung in and bolted a belay at thirty meters on a small foot ledge, the only possible stance available. I abbed down checking the gear and decided it would be protectable.
There was some talk of pre placing some gear to ensure a successful outcome but we decided that this would take something away from the route. John led the first pitch, this thirty meter pitch weighed in around E3 and was excellent with the slightly runout crux coming just prior to the belay. I then took over and managed to gain about five meters before pulling off a small crimp and taking the lob. Slightly spooked I continued upwards towards the crux moves guarding the wider upper crack. My nerves got the better of me and after fiddling in tiny wires I found myself again hanging on the rope. I pushed on ‘french free’ to the second belay.
John seconded and then offwidthed to glory and the top.
We returned a few weeks later and swapped leads, I led out pitch one and John dispatched pitch two leaving a three star offering weighing in at around E4 6a.
Many thanks for Jim Donini for taking us to such a phonominal crag X.
|John leading the second pitch of the Ultimate Basalt Experience with David belaying. Thanks to Jim Donini for photograph.|
|Topo of routes on prow section of La Piramide|
|Topo of ledge section of La Piramide showing routes climbed. This area is distinguished by the prominent ledge at a quarter height.|