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South America, Chilean Patagonia, La Hoja, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Expeditions to the Pingo Valley, Clarification

La Hoja, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Expeditions to the Pingo Valley, Clarification. Between January 5 and February 6, 1996, Sven Bruchfeld (24) and Christian Oberli (24), both Chileans, made the first ascent of the east face of La Hoja in Pingo Valley, Torres del Paine National Park.

The route (5.10 A2, 650m,14 pitches) was completed in nine climbing days over almost three weeks. Four hundred sixty meters of rope were fixed in seven climbing days and the summit was reached on the second attempt on February 2 in a 25-hour push. Regular to bad rock quality was found between pitches ten and 12. All the gear was taken off the wall (and out of the park), including fixed ropes. Only the gear necessary for rappelling safely down was left at the belays (belays remain well protected with bolts, rivets, pitons and/or nuts). La Hoja’s east face is very well protected against the strong stormy Patagonian west winds, making climbing possible even during bad weather, which is why we named the route Bohemian Rhapsody after Queen’s famous song, because “Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter… to me.” On the other hand, the route is in a shady comer of the wall because of a southeast facing pillar to the north of the route.

Our expedition was the second one to visit the Pingo Valley. One year earlier, a British team (Louise Thomas, Mike Turner, Martin Doyle and Ollie Sanders) made the first ascent to the east face of Cuerno Norte (Fist Full of Dollars, A3+, 800m). The third expedition to climb in the Pingo Valley (not the second, as stated in the 1997 AAJ, pp. 264-5) was that of Michael Pennings and Cameron Tague, who climbed Vuelo del Condor (IV 5.11 A1), a new route on Cuemo Oriental, and Anduril (IV 5.11 Al), on the east face of La Hoja, the second new route on the face.

Climbers who take this wonderful lifestyle-sport seriously are invited to contact me by email at coberli@ing.puc.cl with any further questions.

Christian Oberli, Club Aleman Andino