Torres del Brujo, Aprendiz del Brujo, Grand Illusion, and Other Activity

South America, Chile, Central Andes
Climb Year: N/A. Publication Year: 2005.

The Torres del Brujo area is situated in the Chilean Andes, south of Santiago, in the massif of Cerro Portillo (4,850m). The starting point is the small town San Fernando, located in the province Region VI, 150km from the capital. From San Fernando turn toward Termas del Flaco. At first the road is good, then dusty. After 50km continue from the statue Piedra de la Virgen, upstream of Rio Azufre and Rio San Jose, to Glacier Universidad and the Torres del Brujo base camp.

In February 2005 five Slovak mountaineers visited this area. The group consisted of Dusan Beranek (club: Metropol Kosice), Jozef Kristin (club: HK Filozof Bratislava), Juraj Podebradsky (club: Slavia UK Bratislava), Rastislav Simko (club: HK Sitno Banska Stiavnica), and I, Vlado Linek (club: HK Filozof Bratislava). Our goal was to repeat and, if possible, free climb the route Clandestino (9+[UIAA] A0) on Falso Brujo and to make first ascents in the Torres del Brujo massif.

After a two-day approach we reached base camp below Torres del Brujo, close to Glacier Universidad. There were Spanish and Italian mountaineers there too, and they did some routes. The approach glacier to Brujo was in bad condition, and it was necessary to use picks and crampons. The weather was stable and very hot. According to local people, it was a La Niña year in Chile. The glacier was changing every day. Because of the dangerous glacier, the Italians and Spaniards decided to climb on lower walls that had a good approach, while we found a way across the complex glacier. The approach from base camp to the face took four hours. We started sleeping on a moraine, close to the glacier, that was two and a half hours from the wall.

On February 13–14, Dusan Beranek and Juraj Podebradsky did probably the third ascent of Clandestino, at 7c+ A0. It is 13 pitches (7b, 6c+, 6b, 7c+ A0, 7a, 7a A0, 7b, 7a+, 7a+, 7c+, 7a+, 6a+, 7b) and 400m. During the ascent Rastislav Simko filmed their progress. Their initial plan to climb Clandestino free was not realized. The fourth pitch, graded 7c+ A0, would be climbed free at 8a+ or so, the A0 in the 6th pitch is too smooth for free climbing, and the 10th at 7c+ AF has a very hard start [AF, “all free,” is a designation for a pitch on which a climber led all the moves free, but could not achieve a continuous redpoint or onsight. Perhaps the climber fell or had to rest on gear, yet did not resort to pulling on gear for upward progress—Ed.]. Dusan Beranek was not able to imagine how to make some of the moves. They finished the route at 6 p.m. the second day. Free Clandestino is a challenge for the future.

Jozef Kristin and I worked on new route in the central part of Aprendiz del Brujo. The granite is good, very hard, similar to the rock in Yosemite Valley. In the northeast face there are obvious crack systems. We decided for a line in the center of the wall. From February 12–14 we climbed three pitches (a chimney, a pillar, and nice slab) and joined a crack system that goes through a big overhang and continues to the upper part of the face.

On February 15 Dusan Beranek and Rastislav Simko left for home, while Juraj Podebradsky joined Jozef and me. On February 17 and 18 we finished the route and reached the summit of Aprendiz del Brujo. The fourth, fifth, and sixth pitches have nice crack climbing, and the last two pitches are easier slabs and the summit ridge. The route is 310m long and was climbed in 8 pitches.

On February 20 we climbed all of the route free and graded the pitches 6+, 7-, 8-, 9/9+ AF, 8, 8-, 5+, 7-. We climbed all pitches redpoint or pinkpoint, except for the 4th. The 4th pitch involves an overhanging corner crossed by a big roof. Juraj Podebradsky did it AF. We named the 310m route Grand Illusion, because the crux pitch resembles the route with the same name on Sugarloaf, in California: bad hands and no feet. We hand-drilled 30 bolts, 17 for belays and 13 on pitches. We recommend taking 15 quickdraws, two sets of cams, and a set of nuts. We wanted to try the crux pitch again, but falling rock damaged the crampons we left on the glacier, and we were not able to return.

There are several routes on the towers Aprendiz del Brujo and Falso Brujo from 300m to 500m long. In 2004 and 2005 local climber Juanjo Fernandez, from Santiago, did routes there, but we have no information about his climbs. Italian and Spanish mountaineers also did routes there this year.

Vlado Linek, Slovak Mountaineering Union JAMES and Mountaineering Club Filozof Bratislava