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South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Andes, Chile, North Tower of Rengo, Séptimo Arte

North Tower of Rengo, Séptimo Arte. In February 2005 Francisco Rojas, Dario Arancibia, and I opened a new route, using capsule style, on the North Tower of Rengo, an almost unknown granite peak located in the central Andes of Chile. It is the biggest tower in the valley, but there are other walls and spires around. In fact, just in front of the North Tower there is another huge wall called Solarium, which has trad routes up to 11 pitches, 5.11a, all of them characterized by perfect rock, little protection, and (because of its north orientation) no vegetation. Between these two main features is a little forest, which makes a kind of base camp.

Rengo is a little town 150km south of Santiago. From there it’s another 50km to the east, by a very bad road, to arrive to the walls. The good news is you can arrive there by car, so the only walking you will do is 100m from there to the walls. The bad news is there are horses there, and they sometimes have the bad habit of walking over your tent.

Up and down the valley are smaller cliffs, but still big enough to offer a lifetime of climbing. If you consider that at present there are at most only 20 routes, the potential of the area is clear. It is en route to a copper mine that is still in the exploration phase. Further climbing development will depend on the mine’s access policy once mining begins. Our route’s name is Séptimo Arte (19 pitches, 650m, 5.9 A2+). It’s the fourth route in the tower, but the first on the hard left section of the wall (there’s still lots of space for new routes to the left of our line) and the first to go from the ground to the summit.

We began February 10, fixing ropes to bypass overhangs and roofs, in rock of average quality. For the first two days we were helped by Felipe González Donoso, who led the most difficult pitch (A2+). After 250m we arrived at the middle section, where we established a bivouac in 5th-class terrain. Then we retrieved our ropes and fixed them again in the upper section, this time being able to climb free all the pitches. We summited on the 18th after a summit push from the bivouac.

Rodrigo Fica, Abriendo Huella, Chile