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Devils Tower South: La Piramide

Posted on: March 15th, 2010 by admin

Longtime AAC member Jay Smith describes his recent trip to Chile and an astounding rock formation he climbed there:

Over several days and two separate trips, Jim Turner, Jim Donini, Jake Moritz, and I established three routes on a La Piramide in January 2010. This is a Devils Tower–like formation near the border of Chile and Argentina, on the Chilean side. It sits atop of rolling hills above the Jeinimeni River, several kilometers south of the town of Chile Chico. The peak also overlooks beautiful Lago General Carrerara, the second-largest lake in South America. Though the summit had been climbed before, there had not been any technical rock routes established on the mountain.

La Piramide is approached via cross-country and horse tracks, requiring about two and a half hours and a gain of over 1,000 meters. While Donini and Jake established Lichen or Not (1 pitch, 5.9), Jim Turner and I immediately set our sights on the most beautiful and prominent part of the formation, the striking prow that bisects the southeast face. Just left of its edge lies the Piramide’s most continuous crack systems. With the long approach, two days were required to clean and climb the first two pitches in less than perfect weather.

Several days later, we returned and set up a camp nearby. The next day we reclimbed the first two pitches and continued up two more to the ridge. The climb was completed with no falls. Turner and I continued in high winds to the true summit, then descended to the west. The climb is approximately 650 feet in length, with four long pitches (5.11b, 5.11+, 5.10, and 4th class). Blown Away (III 5.11+) is destined to become a classic.

The next day, Donini, Turner and I also established Way Mule (I 5.10d), just to the left of Blown Away. Though this  formation holds a lot of promise, future parties will most likely need a drill to connect the few prominent cracks.

Editor’s note: Since January, more routes have been climbed at La Piramide, bringing the total to nine or more.

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