(Cajon del Maipo Valley in the Andes….the deepest valley providing access into the Andes! Not to mention, a ton of amazing climbing!)
So after our ski camp in Portillo and Valle Nevado, Chile, I stayed for an extra 11 days to explore the area and get to know the country a little better. There aren’t many words to explain it other than….glorious. I stayed with an incredible guy named Pancho who lives in Santiago. He is a climbing and mountain biking guide, so he knows all of the good stuff…which is solely what I saw.
I climbed in Chacabucco, Arrayan, and Cajon del Maipo, which were all very unique and stunning in their own ways. Chacabucco was very open and vast…you could see all of the climbs while approaching the rock, which seemed to be jutting out of the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere.
Arrayan was in a valley in the middle of a forest…you couldn’t see any of the rocks on the approach. It was very secluded and had an incomparable natural feeling about it…it seemed that only the local climbers hung out in the area, and every one was incredibly friendly and content with the character and climbing in Arrayan.
After a few days of climbing, Pancho took me to the beach in El Tabo, where his family has a little beach house. We basically relaxed and took it easy, as I was still exhausted from all the skiing.
So we did some exploring and some slacklining. I ate so much amazing food and renewed my energy for some more climbing and adventuring.
The amount of trash on the beach was unbelievable. All of the wash up was FULL of garbage (plastic bottles, rubber flip flops, ice cream wrappers, you name it), and it made me realize how lucky we are to have such clean areas in the states that are maintained. Wow!
So we headed back to Santiago after 3 days at the beach and prepared ourselves for some more climbing. On our way home we stopped in Valparaiso to check out the town and the awesome graffiti!
We returned to Arrayan with the intent of heading to Cajon del Maipo for some multi-pitching action. I also went to the Banff Film Festival in Santiago, which was pretty neat and crazy. I thought multi-pitching was a bit nuts….these people are “free-basing” (I am not talking about smoking crack, people….I am talking about free-soloing with a parachute! whaaaat). Pretty inspiring stuff.
So when we arrived to Cajon del Maipo we checked out the rocks and scoped our multi-pitch climb for the next day. It seemed to be a pretty easy 11-pitch, 5.10 climb up a beautiful rock face, and we decided to go for it the next morning.
As it turned out, the first 10 pitches were relatively easy and incredibly enjoyable. Then we looked up at pitch 11….
It was the most difficult pitch of the climb, and after both Pancho and I took a few falls and sketchy attempts at it, we made it to the top. What a feeling of elation. I am now addicted to multi-pitching and cannot wait to do it again.
I returned to Santiago that night fully satisfied and ready to go back to the states, though reluctant to leave the people and nature I found in Chile. What I needed was a bit of time off and some home-cooked food from mi madre. Needless to say, it was an amazing adventure and I cannot wait to return for more. Next time I will hit up Patagonia! Hooray!
Now I am back in Park City for conditioning camp…it’s going to be fun but tough! After Utah I will be heading straight to Colorado for some skiing! Whoopee! More on that later…
Well, as Pancho would say…Peace, Bless and Happiness!