BD athlete Ivan Tresch and fellow Swiss nab first free ascent of Valle Cochamo's Cerro Capicua (VI 5.12d, 1200 meters) in Chile
Black Diamond athlete Ivan Tresch is a busy guy, so we weren't surprised that it took him a few months to get us the report about his fantastic and successful climbing trip earlier this year to Chile's Valle Cochamo, a vast wonderland of rock that's often called the "Yosemite of South America." Below is Ivan's report and photos from the trip, plus a great video of the climb, complete with an oddball soundtrack (stop the madness... enough with the whistling!) and a surprise PG-13 appearance by the Gorilla del Norte himself at the end...
Tom Holzhauser, Dominik Angehrn my brother Michi and I arrived in Chile’s Valle Cochamo beginning of January 2009 for two months of climbing.
We arrived without plans, only an article from the web and a few photos in our minds.
After checking the area, we decided that Cerro Capicua would be the wall to go for because there are only two routes on this wall and both aid A4. With a machete and lots of big wall gear we started fighting our way through the Chilean rain forest.
The first 500 meters of the route went quite quick (a vertical vegetation pitch and the rest 5.10). However, hauling the bags (Big Mama 1 and 2) and the portaledge up slowed us down big time (120 kg total weight, much of it water). After arriving at the big ledge halfway up the wall, we found out that there is water running!! We were laughed ourselves to death—carrying 60 liters water up the wall for nothing!
The wall started steep off the ledge. It took me the whole day to climb two pitches!
Aiding up with our best friends the Peckers and a Hilti drill. The rock was not really first ascent friendly—closed, grassy cracks almost the whole way! The second pitch off the ledge was the breakthrough. It looked impossible: blank slab with a closed crack! But it went free at 5.12d.
Dominik, Tom and Michi had to fight with the same problems then I had. It slowed us down, but we are making progress (two pitches a day). The next four pitches from the portaledge were not nice: steep, dirty, grassy offwidth (5.10 A1) climbing! We climbed to the top, but none of us wanted to clean and free climb the upper part of the route. So we decided to try another top out to the right. It was a good decision! We found perfect pitches, a hammer portaledge camp with a ledge and one of the best 5.12d’s I’ve ever climbed!
After climbing a really grassy crack on the left of our ledge I found a killer line straight up the ledge on the way down. The first few meters off the ledge was blank and I almost gave up trying, till I used my bouldering skills and found that the only way is a full body dyno to a crimp, 800 meters of the deck! Perfect. After a few more tricky pitches, which Michi led, we arrived the summit the second time, this time all-free. We named the route: Los Tigres del Norte (5.12d, 24 pitches, 1200 meters) and Los Gorilas del Norte (5.12d A2 24 pitches 1200 meters).
It took us 18 days on the wall with a few rests between, 40 bolts and 10 smashed Peckers to get the first free ascent of the wall.
After I had to go home, Dominik and Michi returned to Los Tigres del Norte with new skin and they sped up the wall free in 11 hours and made the trip perfect.
— Ivan Tresch