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Petzl Rock Trip – Piedra Parada.
For the last couple of years the Petzl Rock Trips have just been getting bigger and better. There was Mexico in 2010, that was incredible, and last year the trip to China was on a whole new level, shocking the climbing world not just with the scale of the event, but also with the venue they had discovered and developed for the climbing world. There didn’t seem much room to move after that, but somehow they pulled it out of the bag!
The area known as the Piedra Parada is in the Chubut region of Argentina, maybe 2000 km south west of Buenos Aires, well in land and basically in the middle of absolutely no where! From the east coast where I landed it took 12 hours by bus, passing through endless nothing as day faded into star studded blackness unlike any I’ve seen before. Waking up I was in a moonscape, a broad valley, and the Chubut river meandering through. Vast rocky plateaus spread upwards and off into the distance scored by deep canyons. Total silence except for the occasional bird call and the trickle of the river just yards from my tent, and an air so clear and sharp that every breath made me feel alive.
The Piedra Parada itself is actually a massive lump of rock sticking out of the ground from the valley floor. It’s about 260m high and maybe the same wide, rising up from the middle of nowhere and sticking out like a sore thumb. There is climbing on it, plenty, and some good multi-pitch trad adventures. But most of the climbing is in the Butrera Canyon that snakes its way northwards for around 5 km, with huge walls and pinnacles towering hundreds of meters into the crystal clear blue sky. There are a lot of routes, and scope for a hell of a lot more! In my few days climbing I barely scratched the surface.
But the 7 full days of travel were worth the 5 good days of climbing. I turned up with no expectations, out of shape and injured and with a dodgy knee from an operation just a few weeks ago. But it came good, with 3 8b, 4 8a+, 2 8a and an 8b/+ all onsight (except one 8a+ flash). The 8b/+ was the last route of the trip and will stand out above every route I climbed, and above every route I’ve climbed this year. Totally at my limit, it was one of those “Climbing Moments”. Johnny Dawes once said that he could climb all year for one of those moments, and he’s right! Maybe I get more than one per year, but its not many more. When you’ve really experienced them you know how rare they are, and how special. I can still remember most of the moves on this route, unusual for the onsight, but each move was so analysed and ingrained. For this route alone the entire trip was worth it, I’d have come all the way just for that!
Read more in the next CLIMB magazine due out soon.
December 01, 2012 11:27 AM
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