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South America, Chile, Northern Patagonia, Cochamo, Amfiteatro, Cáscara de Hueco, A Través del Huevo

Amfiteatro, Cáscara de Huevo, A Través del Huevo. “So you are back!” Daniel welcomed me with his huge smile. Yes, I was back. I couldn’t forget the beauty of the valley, nice people, and huge amounts of unclimbed rock. Sunniva Hoel Aass (Norwegian) and I (Czech but living in Sweden) arrived on December 10 and two days later were climbing an established route in the Amfiteatro of Cochamo. Our goal was to put up a new route ground-up, onsight, with a minimum of bolts, and we spotted a nice line on the left side of the wall. It faced southwest, which was a plus, as it only caught the sun in the evening.

From the upper bivouac boulder in Amfi, we cleaned and marked a path through the jungle, then I led the first pitch, on bubbly rock that was difficult to protect. Two more pitches in grassy corners, followed by a nice traverse, brought us to a large clean dihedral cut by crack systems. We fixed our ropes and descended to the valley for more gear and food. When we returned, Sunniva led the dihedral, running it out on the face, asthe crack was vegetated. It was surprisingly hard to follow, with complex moves on small crimps. I passed the roof above on the right and followed a perfect hand crack in an overhanging corner, the crux a long reach past a one-m section of soil and vegetation. I belayed below a narrow squeeze chimney, into which Sunniva disappeared growling and wrestling her way up, finally reaching a big ledge 25m higher. It started to rain and as the final pitch is a funnel, we rappelled.

I went back to camp for three days, but Sunniva stayed with the birds and rain, meditating. When we returned to the route, we were unable to free climb the last crack, as it was too vegetated. Knifeblades, cams in soil, and run-out free-climbing, with only Birdbeak protection when we couldn’t aid, got us to the top of what we dubbed Cáscara de Huevo (Eggshell Wall).

Two days of gardening changed the last pitch from a muddy canal to a beautiful continuous crack, with plenty of pro, save for the initial corner. After I almost hit the ledge twice on ground-up attempts, we placed a bolt. We also added a bolt higher, where fine face climbing passes a blind crack.

The top of Eggshell Wall then became our second home, with a great view and running water. After a few more days of cleaning and working the moves, we both climbed the last pitch free (Sunniva first), estimating it to be 7b+. We’d limited activities to early mornings, as it later became too hot, even at 1,500m, and the tabanos (horse flies) drove us crazy. We named the route A Través del Huevo (Through the Egg, 260m of climbing, six pitches, 7b+).

Later we continued up the face above, reached by an exposed 10-minute walk. We climbed the central chimney system in three or four pitches (5 to 6b), where from the top it is possible to walk to the summit of Cerro Gorilla to get fine views of the Trinidad Valley and distant 3,000+m volcanoes. Linking this face with A Través del Huevo gives 440m of climbing. It can also be climbed on its own, accessing the start either by an exposed walk from the Trinidad Valley or by climbing Scrambled Egg Gully to the right of Eggshell Wall. From Gorilla it is possible to make an exposedwalk down to the valley or to walk down to the top of Eggshell Wall and make four 60m rappels.

We spent the last part of our stay cleaning and trying to climb several beautiful alternative pitches to the initial section of A Través del Huevo. However, the day I tried to redpoint one of the hard pitches, I fell and tore a ligament in an ankle. Sunniva injured her knees from overuse but still joined Chris Kalman and Grant Simmons on their route Las Manos del Dia. A detailed topo of A Través del Huevo and other routes can be found at www.cochamo.com

Pavel Jiracek, Sweden