When it rains in Cochamó, it rains long and hard. Now, it is raining. It has been raining, it is raining, it will continue to rain. The Cochamó season is finally over. And well enough, after a stellar February with fantastic weather, my body needs a break. Having two summers a year is fantastic, but after the second, a little “descanso” starts to sound pretty nice.
The season wrapped up as nicely as anyone could have hoped for. I had the opportunity to climb El Filo la Aleta de Tiburon - the new route Austin Siadak, Flo Haenel, and I opened in the Anfiteatro - with my girlfriend, and two girls who work for Refugio Cochamó, Martina and Jupi Vargas. It was a dream come true to climb to a Cochamó summit with these three relatively novice climbers. In Cochamo, there are only so many routes approachable to beginners, so it is a pleasure and an honor to be able to add to that list
After all the work we put in on La Aleta, Austin, Flo, and I all went different ways in pursuit of less work and more recreation. Austin left for El Chaltén, in Argentine Patagonia, and I haven’t heard from him since. Flo met up with his wife Andrea, and baby Violeta, and even got in a few days of “just climbing” (i.e., climbing without brushes for cleaning, drills for bolting, etc). And I got to spend a lovely month in Cochamó with my girlfriend, sleeping at alpine summits, and dreaming of new routes.
At the end of Megan’s trip, she and I began to open another route in the Anfiteatro. We were soon joined by our new friend Marco Hardgrove. In this case, I relished the opportunity to seek out steep and difficult cracks, which required little cleaning. While the climb turned out anything but appropriate for beginners, it was a release I had long been waiting for to test myself on some of Cochamó’s incredible, still untouched cracks.
Megan had to return to Maryland and the real world before we were able to finish the route. Soon after one of my best friends and oldest climbing partner, Miranda, arrived and joined us for one final push up the wall. Before the rains started in full force, Marco, Miranda and I were able to climb the whole route start to finish, opening three new pitches along the way. In the end, the route is 10 pitches long with difficulties up to 5.12. We have a working name for the new line, but need to all get together and suss it out over beers in the near future.
As always, my time in Cochamó was nothing short of incredible. Now, as the rain falls and falls and keeps on falling, my mind turns to other places, and new adventures. The real world lies in wait for me, as well. Propositions such as taxes, paying mechanic bills, replacing a missing tooth, starting a business, and continuing to follow my dreams of one day being a full-time author loom even larger than the walls I just finished climbing. While the “Work Work Work” bird is now far away beneath endless sheets of falling rain, I cannot escape his demented call - his obsessive compulsion lament. No rest for the wicked, so they say. The work is never done.
Switchback Travel’s Cochamó Journals will document climber Chris Kalman as he journeys down to Southern Chile in 2014 for another epic climbing season. You can learn more about Chris and follow his work at www.chriskalman.com. Chris is supported by Cilo Gear, Mad Rock Climbing, and NW Alpine.