American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Northern Patagonia, Cochamó, Cerro Trinidad, Water Music

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Cerro Trinidad, Water Music. Cerro Trinidad dominates the Cochamó Valley. A German team, supported by British climbers Tony and Sarah Whitehouse, put up a new free-climb- ing route in the center of the big, challenging northwest face of Cerro Trinidad. The 950m route was completed on February 23. Led by Ruediger Helling and Jens Richter from Dresden, the team negotiated 18 pitches, most of them 60m long, up to 5.12d, with one short A1 passage.

Reaching the valley’s walls requires walking through jungle, often without a trail, route-finding skills, and a machete.

Most lines in this region need extensive gardening, but the German’s route was steep enough to prove an exception. They brought Portaledges and bivy gear, but, due to unusually poor February weather, with lots of rain and even snow, progress was difficult, and they fixed ropes and worked individual pitches. Heavy rains can make climbing a drenching experience, with cracks becoming waterfalls within minutes, making rain-proof clothing a joke and even the descent a challenge. On one such day, after climbing a delicate slab in a slight rain and rappelling mostly in a water-pipe, the climbers named the route Water Music. Water Music takes an impressive line directly up the “nose,” sharing the first two pitches of the Ides of March, a 1998 5.11 A3+ British route, but continuing straight up where Ides trends right. It crosses Ides again in the middle part of the face, where the only aid pitch is situated, a 10m section of blank wall with thin edges that might go free at a really high grade. The route has 96 bolts, 36 of them at the belays, many others protecting flared cracks and steep face sections. It offers perfect granite, with cracks from thin fingers to off-width, slabs, face-climb- ing, and great exposure. Aside from the first and last pitches, the climbing is 5.10 or harder, mostly 5.11 with some 5.12 pitches. American Daniel Seeliger, who runs the refuge, called it one of the best and most demanding free-climbing lines in Cochamó Valley.

Ruediger Helling, Germany, and Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO Editor, CLIMB magazine

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