South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Patagonia, Chile, Allevano Tower, Avellano pal Verano, and Costumes Rehearsal
Allevano Tower, Avellano pal Verano, and Costumes Rehearsal. While working for a month by massive San Lorenzo Peak as a mountain instructor, I thought about a third attempt to climb a direttis- sima up the northeast pillar of Avellano Tower in the XI Región de Aysén.
My first time in the valley as a climber ended with the first ascent of the spire by a snow, rock, and ice route (Conquistador Ridge, IV 5.10 80°, AAJ 2004, pp. 307-308). Bad weather persisted for 26 out of 28 days, allowing us to climb only one route but leaving us with a taste of the potential of the valley, in particular for the direttisssima, which my partners Dave Anderson and Jamie Selda attempted on that trip.
In 2005, with less time than the previous summer, Marcelo Mascareño and I made a second attempt to the direct route. Conditions were a bit better, but poor weather and a lack of time kicked us out off the wall and back to Coyhaique to enjoy New Year’s eve. That same season, a Basque team (Azier Izaguirre and Xavier Amonárriz) also attempted the direct route, but failed due to bad weather.
Jose Ignacio “Nacho” Morales, editor of Escalando (a recently launched Chilean climbing magazine) and my climbing partner this time, had asked me, “What about Avellano for the summer?” I thought about the poor weather, the time spent in the tent staring at the wall getting fat and swearing at the weather. And I said, “I’ll do it.”
I finished work in the San Lorenzo area on February 12, 2006, and returned to the Avellano Towers on the 14th. Along with Nacho and me came Wyoming climbers Becca Rose- berry and Brendan O’Neill, and my girlfriend Julie, from France. We settled into base camp, with the conditions quite dry. Most of the snow was gone, and the cracks looked clean of ice. On February 16 Nacho and the Americans scouted the best approach from our base camp. There were some significant avalanches tumbling down from the hanging glacier at the foot of the wall, which made the approach not casual. Plus, routefinding was required on the upper glacier to reach the upper snowfield.
Overcast skies the next two days had us eating under the tarp, but on the evening of February 18 Nacho asked me to set up the alarm for 3 a.m., so we could check the weather.
In the morning clouds partially covered the skies, but the anxiety to get climbing was strong, and we left camp at 5 a.m. Before it was clear we were scrambling up the 4th- to easy 5th-class slabs at the beginning of the approach. At dawn we began the glacier travel and quickly crossed the snowfield. At 7 a.m. we switched from mountain boots to climbing shoes.
The first four pitches follow a straightforward crack/corner system, with a potpourri of cracks up to 5.10-. Then several splitters, a couple of roofs, and face climbing on great granite led to the summit in five more pitches, with consistent 5.10 moves. At 5:15 p.m. a scream from Nacho, who had reached the summit, put a smile on my face.
The descent was not casual. Stuck ropes delayed our return. The glacier seemed longer on the way down. After 22 hours we arrived at camp, at 3 a.m. At 4 a.m. Becca and Brendan left to attempt a variation of the direct route set by Nacho and I, and made the second ascent of the northeast face, by Costumes Rehearsal, which went at about the same grade as our route.
We named our route Avellano pal Verano (360m, TD- IV 5.10).
Ignacio Grez, Coyhaique, Chile