An Anglo-German team has put up a hard new route on the big northwest face of Cerro Trinidad in Chile’s Cochamo valley. Michael Baensch, Jurgen Becher, Andreas Dippe, Reudiger Helling, Andreas Polster, Jens Richter and Olga Skachkova from the Dresden area of Germany, together with Sarah and Tony Whitehouse from Sheffield, England completed the 840m (climbing distance) line on February 23, negotiating 18 long pitches at 5.12d and A1, 5.11d obl.
Situated 100km east of Puerto Montt, this forested region is sometimes referred to as the Yosemite of South America, due to its huge granite walls and, at the right time of year, generally warm stable weather. Most major lines in this region need extensive gardening and the recent route proved no exception. Ropes were fixed and the team worked individual pitches. Unfortunately, progress was difficult due to unusually poor February weather, the worst for fifteen years according to American Daniel Seeliger, who runs the refuge. Heavy rains can make climbing on these walls very dangerous and at one point Richter was very nearly drowned when retreating in a sudden storm. Rappeling the line through almost waist deep water, he was pinned to the wall for several minutes when trying to change ropes.
The region does not appear to have been visited by climbers until 1997, when Crispin Waddy from the UK, on a tip-off from local Chileans, macheted his way through the jungle for three days and took stock of the walls. He returned with re-enforcements and on that trip American Tim Dolan and Simon Nadin from the UK made the first ascent of Cerro Trinidad via the relatively straightforward northeast ridge, a line that they named Stirling Moss (5.8/5.9: Moss was a famous British racing driver).
Waddy returned in 1998 with Noel Craine, Grant Farquhar, Dave Kendall and Nadin from the UK, together with Americans Nathan Martin and Steve Quinlan. This team attempted the big front face of Trinidad (ca. 750m) and created three routes using fixed ropes and extensive cleaning efforts: Megalanic Clods/Welcome to the Jungle (A3 5.11, Martin-Quinlan, 1998), The Ides of March (A3+ 5.11, Craine-Kendall-Waddy, 1998) and Sundance (5.11+ A2+, Farquhar-Nadin, 1998). To date there are around seventeen routes on this formation.
The new Anglo-German route takes an impressive direct on the ‘nose’, starting up Sundance but continuing straight up where the later trends right. It joins it again in the upper part of the face and this is where the only remaining aid pitch is situated, a thin crack that Helling, a very accomplished free climber, feels might go at 13b but would require the addition of bolt protection. At present the route has 110 bolts, including belays.