American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina and Chile, Northern Patagonia, Valle Pirita, Pirita Right, Voces en la Noche

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Valle Pirita, Pirita Right, Voces en la Noche. While exploring in 2008, Josh Beckner glimpsed a large granite wall in Argentina’s remote Pirita Valley of the upper Rio Turbio drainage. On February 26,2009, Beckner, Jared Spaulding, and I crossed Lago Puelo by boat and hired a gaucho to transport our gear 20 miles by horseback. Sunburned from the exceptional weather, we cached our gear at the convergence of the Rio Turbio and Turbio Quatro Rivers. The next morning we were awakened by Canadians Paul McSorely, Will Stanhope, and Andrew Querner, who’d just left the valley. They told us that a local Argentine climber had pioneered the difficult approach to the valley and done some routes there [see above report]. The Canadians had also done some climbs, and they told us about a striking unclimbed line on the right tower.

We spent the next week hauling our gear through dense stands of bamboo-like cana colihue, which required machetes despite passage of two previous climbing parties. We started our ascent of Pirita Right on March 9 with a 1,500' “approach” that included several 5th-class pitches (to 5.11) and a small but steep snowfield. Once to the base proper, we headed up a sweeping dihedral that turned out to be the route’s crux. From there we followed a series of cracks on the left side of the tower. When the system ended, a short pendulum provided access to a splitter hand crack and another corner system. The direct sun and temperatures close to 80°F zapped our strength and required the third to jug with extra water. Darkness caught us four pitches from the top, and we bivied on a tiny butt-ledge before topping-out the next morning. After one rappel down the south side we scrambled around to the north and downclimbed a series of complicated slabs (4th- and easy-5th class), rappelled across a snowfield, and returned to our high camp six hours after summiting. We ascended 2,200' of roped climbing (including some traversing pitches) between the approach and the actual tower, though it’s hard to say where one ends and the other begins. Using our altimeter watch, we estimated the vertical height of the tower proper as 1,500'. The rock was excellent fine-grained granite with a host of crack systems, mostly tips to hands in size. We named our route Voces en la Noche (Voices in the Night, V 5.11 A0) for the human voices we thought we heard during our climb, most likely produced by the hundreds of waterfalls echoing throughout the valley.

Heavy rain on the hike out provided challenging river crossings and mandatory use of a sketchy Tyrolean. Back at our base camp we loaded everything into two tiny Kmart-style inflatable rafts, equipped with handmade paddles, and floated out along the Rio Turbio to Lago Puelo, to complete our adventure in 17 days. We received generous support from the Mugs Stump Award and the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Dave Anderson, AAC

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