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Cochamó, Patagonien - Ein Paradies für Kletterer | Katie Keeley

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Katie Keeley kehrte vor kurzem von einer unglaublichen Reise nach Südamerika zurück. Von einem Standort aus unternahm sie zahlreiche Mini-Expeditionen und konnte fantastische Routen unter nahezu perfekten Bedingungen begehen. Eine gewagte Behauptung, aber "Ein Paradies für Kletterer" scheint sich zu bewahrheiten.
Text von Katie Keeley:

First glimpse of the granite peaks as you hike into the valley

“Anyone who hasn’t been in the Chilean forest doesn’t know this planet. I have come out of that landscape, that mud, that silence, to roam, to go singing through the world.” This quote by Pablo Neruda was on the first page of the first book I opened in Chile. And snuggled up listening to the rain beating down on my tent, it perfectly captured the emotions that I felt about this place.

Cochamó is a climbers paradise, hidden away in Patagonia, in the Lake District region of Southern Chile. It is completely cut off from the outside world, requiring a 13 km hike through muddy forest to reach the main valley. There is no phone signal, no roads, no infrastructure, no houses, no traffic. Just nature in its purest form. A place that makes time stand still. It is one of only three virgin temperate rainforests remaining in the world.

I've never known forests like these. So dense, so many varieties of green. The tallest trees I’ve ever seen. The cool, damp climate feels soothing and gentle, a softness to the air. The sunlight trickles through leaves, a luminous green that sings with life and energy. A soft carpet of warmth and pulsing light on the forest floor.

Trinidad North, Central and South.

The mist hangs in the upper valleys in the early morning, veils of cloud rising occasionally to reveal the granite faces below, clinging to the trees like the wisps of forgotten dreams.

The valleys are full of water; rivers, waterfalls, small lagoons hidden in the rocks. Then out of this luscious landscape rise those great granite walls, valley after valley after valley. Magnificent, imposing, alluring. Calling to the hearts of climbers to come and touch them if they dare.

Maria taking in the view in the upper Trinidad Valley.

For me Cochamó is the most incredible place I’ve ever been to. Being so completely immersed in nature, living outside all day everyday; totally removed from modern society, made this one of the happiest and most peaceful periods of my life. I found everything I needed here. To wake up to the sound of water and birds, roll out of my bag and jump into a freezing cold river. To push myself mentally and physically on some of the most beautiful rock in the world with a wonderful community of humans. To go to bed exhausted and wake up excited everyday. This place made me feel so alive.

Tim on the tenuous slab traverse of "Bienvendios mi Insomnia", 920m, 20 pitches.

There are many outstanding climbing routes in Cochemó and an infinite many more to be explored. The quality of the rock is excellent; long well protected cracks of every size interspersed with technical crimpy slabs, with routes from 200m to 1600m! Routes that make you woop with joy or laugh out loud at just how perfect some of the holds are; lines in the rock that seem to be made purely to be climbed. Condors glide on the thermals below you. If there is a god of climbers she had a wild time making this place.

Diana following me up "Cosmic Corner" on "La Pluma del Cóndor", 40m of stemming and finger crack.
Beth on the last hard move of the stunning "No Hay Hoyes", 5.11a, 6 pitches.
Most climbers make their base camp at la Junta and undertake mini multi day expeditions into the surrounding valleys and amphitheaters to bivy and explore the seemingly endless granite domes and peaks in the area. This was definitely a trip to build the leg muscles and the cardio fitness for! The approaches can be almost as challenging as the routes themselves, especially when carrying such heavy packs, with a standard approach being 3 hours into the valley and another hour on top of that to the base of the wall. The trails range from being well trodden hiking paths to scrambling up vertiginous jungle. But each venture usually starts by taking the zipline cart across the river which must be one of the best morning commutes ever!
Whilst we were not starving, carrying in all your food for 5 weeks and trying to make it last was quite a new logistical challenge for me. Food fantasies became a common theme and chocolate biscuits became the greatest trading currency. Since we had 60 kilos each we employed the help of local horses and their guides to bring our kit up to the base camp for which I was eternally grateful.  Although I did commit to carrying 120 eggs by hand (on a 13 km trek through the rainforest) and miraculously most of them survived! Next time I might just opt for protein bars.
We tended to climb up on the walls until we ran out of food and energy, then returned to the camp to recharge, re-supply and do it all again on a different wall. I can genuinely say that every route I did here was brilliant but some of my favorites and most memorable are; ‘Al centro y al dentro’ 5.11c, 12 pitches of world class climbing putting the full spectrum of granite skills and techniques to the test. ‘Positive effect’ 5.12b, 19 pitches, including some unforgettable stemming dihedral corners. ‘Doña Devora Dedos’ 5.12b, 9 pitches, with a 50m fingertip perfect splitter and ‘El Monstro’ 5.10d, 1635m, 29 pitches of pure Patagonian wilderness, including a 2 day approach and a very snowy summit.
End of the rock pitches on "El Monstro", ready to tackle the snow. Photo, Timothy Goubert. Katie trying hard with the fist jams on "Positive Effect". Photo, John Lynch.

Katie just before the crux of the steep 5.12b pitch on "Devora Dedos". Photo, Elsa Pont.

Katie enjoying the perfect splitter hands on "Positive Effect". Photo, John Lynch.

Part of what made Cochamó so special was the amazing people I got to share it with. Sometimes up on those big walls I reflected how funny it was that I completely 100% trusted these friends, some of whom I had only known for a few months, but I did. And that is the beauty of climbing. We put our lives in each other’s hands over and over again. The bond you get from that is stronger and more intense than in other parts of life. Two souls joined together, physically by the rope, and emotionally by the shared love of this crazy, wonderful, all consuming sport we call rock climbing. Cochemó brought together everything I value most about climbing; wilderness, adventure and community.  It will always have a very special place in my heart and it is somewhere I long to return to in the not too distant future.

Maria, Di and Katie at the top "Pluma del Condor", 5.12b, 9 pitches.

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