Piedra Parada

5-8 Oct 2006 - by Jeff Adams

A great place to climb in this area is Piedra Parada. It is a 1500 or so ft volcanic plug in the middle of the Chubut River valley. The main route is rated grade V+, A1, but that is a very old rating (the late 1940's) It probably goes at V+ to V1 or 5.10. It is mostly a very exposed chimney about 6 pitches. My climbing partner and I just returned from there.

The problem for us is we have no vehicle so we have to hitch a ride. Though it is only 45 miles from here, it took us a day to get there.

When we got there, we set camp and climbed the first two pitches and left a cache of pro for the following day, rappelled off and rested. During the night the famous Patagonia wind came up and made it difficult to rest well. I'm from Montana and accustomed to high winds, but the combination of high wind and very fine dust blowing through the tent made it difficult.

The next morning we got up, drank lots of water (the wind robbing us of moisture) and started climbing. The climbing was great, the placement was very good. A large rack of Cams and stoppers is needed with long slings. The only bad part of the climb was the loose rock. Just the rope drag would cause a melon size rock to plummet, but if you're paying attention it isn't a problem. The first half is negative enough to cause any debris to fall free, but if anyone is on the ground they need to stay clear. I watched one rock fall straight down and land about 50 ft from the base.

It took us 6 hrs to make the climb. It has been climbed in about 4.5, but we aren't in it for the speed, but the enjoyment of climbing. We both are getting older (me being 48, and my partner Pablo being 39) we are more into just trying to do it as pure as possible.

It was about 3:30 when we summited, and 5:30 when we got back to camp. We had to be back home before Monday morning, so we packed up and started walking. We walked about 7 miles before we got a ride, which took us about half way home. It was about 9 at this point. We waited about a half hour and were able to get another ride which brought us all the way to town. It was about 10:30 when we got back here.

If anyone wanted to come down to climb, the area of Piedra Parada offers weeks of climbing, a lot of it virgin. Also within a 20 mile radius of town there is several areas that are developed but they all involve a good hike even with an auto. If anyone is interested, they can e-mail me at vaquerojeff@yahoo.com. My partner is a licensed guide and can help if you need a guide. The town we live in is Esquel in the Provence of Chubut. It is about 4 hours south of San Carlos De Baraloche. Any time of year is good for climbing somewhere in the area. We live next to the cordillera and get lots of rain and snow in the winter, which makes for good mountaineering, but the desert is just a short distance away. The possibilities are limitless.

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