Videos from the Altiplano
Le vent nous portera, 9a+, Socaire, Chile – Latin America’s hardest route on 3600m
“Le vent nous portera” – The wind will carry us. Over the highlands of the Altiplano. Through the magic of the dust, the snow, the steppe, volcanos and the ever brighter stars to the most beautiful rocks we never could imagine. All unexplored. And ready to be bolted with just some lonesomes, shining lines. Lines as this one. Latin America’s first 9a+.
The wind did carry me in many different ways. Together with the hight it made me lighter and filled my veins with haemoglobin – endless stamina. It made me tougher and even more resistant to the omnipresent cold, the minus 20 degrees at night and the five at daytime. And it boosted my specific shape on the mostly only slightly overhanging walls of the volcanic ashes, the tiny holds, the super precise climbing.
In the end, after having spent four weeks in Socaire in June and then again some days in August, one last heavy storm with up to 140km/h forced me to rest another five days with only one day with softer climbing in between. It forced me to be in the perfect shape. To send it in the first try on August the 14th after less about twenty tries in all. Our six weeks of absence from Socaire (purely above 3500m and with about three kilograms less than before) was the greatest boost in shape I ever have encountered in my climbing life. At the age of 32.
The route might be among the most aesthetic high end lines in the world. Both regarding the movements and the optical aspects. 30m high on perfect volcano rock with tiny pockets, highly technical, super precise climbing, plenty of different colours and a final 8B crux after more than 50 moves including a beautiful opening boulder and an 8b+ slab, linked to the crux by only a bad rest.
And though we had only two weeks to go, the wind carried me to even more impressive stuff. But this is another story…
In this light you look like Poseidon – En esta luz te ves como Poseidon: Bolivia’s first 9a in on 3900m in El Eden near Potosì.
“In this light you look like Poseidon” is Bolivias’s first 9a, the second one on the Altiplano on almost 4000m, the fourth one in Latin America. I could send it after some ten tries in a once-in-a-lifetime perfect rush one month before the end of our five months trip to South America and as an opening to the most unbelievable finish of the journey I ever could have imagined. (But more to this in the next weeks.)
The route consists of about 25 hard moves with only one moderate rest point before the red point crux. The first boulder is definitely harder than everything I repeated on this trip (problems up to 8A in Capilla del Monte or Golden) and way more my style. On the right foot you need a harder shoe like the Scarpa Instinct VS to push from very open foot holds for the jump move but in the following main crux part of nearly 15 moves, there was no way to hook the crucial hook with anything else than the heel shape and the new rubber of the Instinct VS-R (and even with this one only one of three hook tries were successful).
This part is pretty much the most technique I have seen in a 9th grade route up to now but rapidly slides into a wonderful face climb with big moves and pure resistance fighting to the rest. No need to try to explain how the hight of 3900m feels in something like this, as no one, who hasn’t felt this by his own lungs, can possibly imagine. (After three months of acclimation I spend 10 minutes of heavy breathing in the rest point.)
Up to there you have linked 7C+ to 8A+ without a rest, thus something like 8c+, but the last 7B+ boulder still will throw you off, if you are not in a good route climbing shape (or if you think about spending only something like one month on 4000m).
Despite almost five kilograms less than in good shape at home, just after sending, I still was insecure about the grade to give. Only when I returned to my main project in Socaire one week later, doubt evaporated like a single drop of water in the Altiplano sun.
Rocoto Love (8c+) at Tajgrapata (4000m), Iquique, Chile
Big thanks to Rodrigo for the invitation to the Northern Chile’s Climbing Festival at the end of June when we bolted this nice new high end line on the perfect volcanic rock of this huge stone forest. On both sides of the road to Bolivia there are some 60 routes established and another 1000 to open on walls up to almost 100m high. In addition you can visit the two magnificent National Parks of Lauca and Isluga not far away with one of the most magic places I’ve seen in my life.
I could send Rocoto Love (a tribute to the best chilli pepper in the world) in the 12th try (and for filming in the 13th again 😉 after five days in the route. The very physique style demands even more than in the 3600m high Socaire a proper breathing technique on the rest points and some final explosiveness in the upper crux. Come with a not to rough rope, the drag on the last easy meters can be hard.
8B boulder at 4200m – Zonda Loca in Tuzgle, Jujuy, Argentina
A climbing paradise going insane. In a so called El Nino year this magnificent place of thousands of boulders and kilometres of beautiful volcanic cliffs for us turned into a hard challenge of burning sun, low oxygen, minus 20° at night and in the end 100km/h of wind. Despite all this I could send Zonda Loca (Zonda is a this kind of wind being brushed over the mountains – in French and German “Fön”) just before leaving.
The potential in Tuzgle isn’t explored by more than 3% and the possibilities for both high ball bouldering and rope climbing are enormous. But you have to love the rough volcanic soul of the Altiplano!
Murcielago, 8B, Brealito, Argentina – Among birds and bats and quite some sandstone
At the foot of the Altiplano in northern Argentina lies the wide and sandstone covered valley of Brealito at 2500m of altitude. The place is as calm and beautiful as it can be and there are some thousands of boulders to open (and to brush).
Murciélago is an 8m high athletic, powerful sequence of 15 hard moves (before some meters of slap) on roundly shaped holds with difficult hooks and a long way to the mantle. (I got to the edge only at the horn. Otherwise it is somewhat easier.) In three sessions and some perfect evening conditions I sent it – bats (murciélago) crossing behind me -, after three weeks of travelling towards the Altiplano through the Argentinian Andes in the end of April.
And four months to go… → www.lizardclimbing.com/trips/
Ruta de Cobre (9a) – Chiles 2nd ninth grade route in Socaire (3600m) on the Altiplano.
People call it the Mal de la Puna, the illness of the Altiplano, that is due to the lack of oxygen on this as vast as beautiful as lifeless plateau on 4000m, that spreads over thousands of kilometres in between Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. But people could mean as well the infertile dryness, the harsh winter winds, the minus 20 degrees at night or the lack of shelter from the dazzling sun. People in general try not to stay.
We came for months. And we came – just as the miners – to exploit. But no lithium, no salt, no sulfur, and well, no copper neither are our goal. Just lines. Just roads over volcanic rock. Delicate and precise moves to moves to moves on miniscule pockets and generous cracks in red and orange rock. And shapes to dream away from what we consider to have been our causal vertical playing.
First fruit of 17 tries in the Quebrada de Nacienmento in Socaire, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, 3600m above sea level: Ruta de Cobre (Copper Street), 9a, 18m, FA. Finest resistance climbing on small pockets in a slightly overhanging wall of copper red colour (and lots of copper in the rock). Bad rest points clearly will draw the line between those who already have passed the Mal de la Puna, the in the beginning sometimes tough acclimatisation to high end sports at 4000m, and those who just pass to tick. Same thing for those, who don’t measure at least 1,80m (no idea what happens when you try to jump the crux). Same thing for those who fail to handle the cracks in too dry skin, that tend to appear after some time on this altitude. Same thing for… (You see, a lot of new issues to consider climbing on the Altiplano)
The line heads straight all the way up in between the two bad rock rails to the sides and all holds on them. But you won’t need the video to understand. Ruta de Cobre is obvious. And great to climb!
Videos from Sardegna
Sardegna Bouldering – Tafoni, millions of boulders and Brigante Onesto (8B)
Ever heard of bouldering in Sardegna? No? Me neither! Why? No idea. Perhaps because many boulderers aren’t that rapidly over moon because of the beauty of rock and setting as me and look more on the climbing specific features? Perhaps. And well, it is true, that steep rock (that has not been eroded by water) in most of the endless boulder fields of the island needs quite a lot of brushing, that there are either good holds, very slopy ones or no holds at all and that crystals are rather big and thus cutting. But, hey!, for all other aspects bouldering down here is outstanding! And at least on the archipelago de la Maddalena you have all this AND good rock quality. But have a look yourself. These are only some of the most beautiful lines we found in three weeks there. And with Brigante Onesto (8B) even one hard one.
Brigante Onesto 8B – La Caprera/Sardegna
“An honest thief is one my ideals” is a citation from Garibaldi, the uniter of Italy, who bought the island of Caprera in the 19th century and the namesake of my hardest FA of three weeks in this crazy tafoni granite world. A place, where actually “stealing” new hard lines from the great potential can’t be the first option, but beauty has to be the idol you follow into the caves and domes and endless fields of boulders.
In addition the rock on the mainland with its big sharp crystals, few (or very good) holds and in overhangs big brushing potential isn’t the best rock to climb hard on and the only place, that we could figure out, where the granite is more solid and finer was the archipelago de la Maddalena and especially the island of Caprera. But for this you will have to watch the LP version of the video…
Videos from Patagonia
Azul es el cielo de los ciegos – South America’s first 9a in Piedra Parada, Argentina.
Muchas gracias amigos por un tiempo incréible!
Six weeks in great landscapes, great climbing, but above all with great people. The ultimate roots ambiance and the ultimate place to come down from your western urges.
More than 30 tries in the unique surrounding of the Calavera, the darkest place I ever climbed in. When blue skies just ahead are blinding your eyes you’ll have to wait for Patagonian autumn to see.
Impressions from El Chaltén – Including “Wasabi” (8B) and “El Ultimo Mate” (8B)
We wanted to leave El Chalten to visit Puerto Natales for only some days, but then I found this line. Never have seen rock like this before, never have made moves like this. Never in a spot like this. In the end it turned out to be pretty hard, 10 days of work. The best way to get back in shape after two months of no or only very few climbing. My tribute to greener traveling.
The cold and smelly breath of death, 8B+/8C, Dorotea, Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile – One of Latin Americas hardest Boulders
One of the most impressing landscapes on planet earth and some really nice bouldering, too. We passed two times for a little more than one week during this outstanding Patagonian summer with more good weather windows than bad ones. More of a bathing trip, than of a high level sport one, but definitely the best way to gain some form after almost two months off climbing again. Maybe one day we’ll be back for one of these alluring walls…
Videos from Ladakh/India
Pirmin Bertle in Indias hardest Boulder – Bacteria, 8B+, at 4000m
Craziest bouldering conditions I ever climbed in. 4000m above sea level, high after every try from the low oxygen, an air as dry as just the dust up there, the stomach full of bacteria, the fingers painful from never healing cuts and the most flashing landscape I have ever lived in.