Valle Cochamo Chile, first free ascent of Cerro Capicua
Words by Arc'teryx Athlete Jvan Tresch
Tom Holzhauser, Dominik Angehrn my brother Michi and I arrived in Valle Cochamo beginning of January 2009 having two month 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) only hauling "big mama" 1 and 2, & the portaledge (120 kg) up, slowed us down big time. After arriving the big ledge half way up the wall, we found out, that there is water running!! We were laughing to death, carrying 60 liters water up the wall for nothing!
The wall started steep of the ledge. It took me the whole day to climb two pitches!
We continued aiding up with our best friends the birdbeaks and a hilti drill. The Rock was not really first ascent friendly. Closed grassy cracks almost the whole way! The second pitch of the ledge was the breakthrough. It looked impossible, blank slab with a closed crack! But it went free at 5.12d.
It carried on the same style - birdbeak after birdbeak. Dominik, Tom and Michi had to fight with the same problems then I had. It slowed us down, but we were making progress (two pitches a day).
The next four pitches from the portaledge were not nice, steep dirty grassy offwith (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 that we would 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 I 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 of 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 at the summit a 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 birdbeaks to get the first free ascent of the wall.
After I had to go home, Dominik and Michi climbed "Los Tigres del Norte" in one push. After a few rest days, they returned back with new skin and the route in mind. They speed up the wall free in eleven hours and made the trip perfect