American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina and Chile, Northern Patagonia, Chile, Cochamó, El Monstruo, La Gran Rasa

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

El Monstruo, La Gran Raja. Jerzy Stefanski and I (both Polish) created a new line on the previously unclimbed east wall of El Monstruo. After transporting our equipment to Barranca Pass (sort of our advanced base camp), we descended the next morning to the Barranca Valley, through a vertical forest. At 2 p.m. on February 18, 2006, we started our climb, leading a few pitches up to 7a. After a cold, uncomfortable bivouac with no sleeping bags or other bivy equipment, we climbed the rest of the wall the next day, up to a snowy headwall ridge, encountering difficulties up to 6c. We reached the top exactly when the sun set, then followed the ridge down north to our bivouac on the pass.

The east wall of El Monstruo (the name given by climbers in Cochamó) is 1,000m high and has one weak point: a series of dihedrals that, after about 10 pitches, becomes a crack and then a chimney. That is why we called our line La Gran Raja (Big Crack in English, Wielkie Pekniecie in Polish). The route has 22 pitches, difficulties up to 7a (we climbed it onsight), climbing distance of 1,100m plus 200m of snowy ridge to the top.

Before El Monstruo, we tried to repeat the Alandalaca on Trinidad Sur but didn’t succeed (bad weather and lack of energy).

We also tried a new line on Piedra de Gorila. After two days of cleaning dirty and grassy cracks, an uncomfortable bivouac, and a few falls, we gave up.

Cochamó Valley is located in northern Patagonia, close to Puerto Montt. Summer weather makes this area similar to Yosemite Valley. There are five 1,000m big walls and a few smaller walls, mostly unclimbed. Thanks to Daniel Seeliger, an American living in Bariloche, for the friendly atmosphere in Cochamó. Nice place, nice people.

Boguslaw Kowalski, Poland

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