The prima of big wall solo returned from the expedition to Chilean Patagonia, where she climbed a new route, once again alone! Silvia tells about her line and answers WomenGoHigh’s questions!
By Silvia Vidal
Photos: Courtesy of author
A first wall ascent and a new route on the West face of Cerro Chileno, Patagonia, Chile. Aysén region.
Solo first ascent by Sílvia Vidal
Alone and totally isolated and incommunicado; no radio, no phone, no GPS, any kind of communication device for a month and half, in the Chileno valley.
After fixing the first 180 meters, I spent 33 days living on the wall (from 7th February until 10th March) to put up a route called “Sincronia Màgica”, 1.180 meters climbed, A3+/6a+ plus 30 minutes to the westernmost needle, which turned out not to be the main summit.
The wall is huge and vertical. There is 330 m. vertical terrain, with much vegetation that prevents enjoying the climbing in that section and I don’t even know how to graduate it. To climb vertical cracks, full of vegetation, I used crampons and an ice axe. Void or difficult protection.
The rest of the route (the 850 remaining meters) of slabs and cracks, some were big (offwidth and chimneys) and they were clean. The slabs have moss that slips only when wet.
It’s a complex wall, difficult to progress, not just because of the difficulty of the climb, but because of the amount of manoeuvres that are necessary to move around that terrain; many roofs, traverses, pendulums … to link cracks and slabs.
The route is done in capsule style with 3 wall camps.
The rappels took 4 entire days, and I had to fix the pitches before rappelling them with the haulbags.
Meteorology also determines the climbing.
Considering the area that is, I had quite good weather, although it rained 50% of the days (usually is more). There were two big storms of rain and strong wind. When it’s windy, being on the wall is dangerous.
Under the wall…
16 days loading the equipment (go and return). Approach by glacier, forest and glacier moraine, to carry a total of 6 packages of 25 kg each (150 kg).
Andrea, Marco and Manu, who work in the area and to whom I am deeply grateful, the offered to help with one carry each one. The rest of loadings I made them on my own, doing more than 150Km.
Reading the information it seems like a hell of a place. It’s not. The place is amazing, beautiful and intense and what I lived there is summarized by the name of the route (“Sincronia Màgica”).
When things despite its complication and harness flow and keep going, to finally become what you expected, the experience was worth it.
To return from an expedition where you has been alone and isolated, requires some time and acclimatization to the “civilization” to be able to adapt to the changes. But this time who has changed is the whole planet. The world has changed and we too.
Why did you choose this mountain? Were you the first one to climb the wall or the summit at all?
Pere Vilarasau and Pancho Croxatto that live in the area, send me a picture, and I thought it could be a good project.
It’s the first wall ascent, I didn’t get the Cerro Chileno Grande top, I arrived to the most western needle, showed in the picture I send to you previously.
You’re not betrayin’ yourself and keep climbing solo?
I climb with other partners the whole year, I just do solo ascents when going for an expedition, and that’s once in a while, when I feel it’s the moment to experience something new.
What you live during a month and a half, or two, alone in the wilderness, isolated… is a changing experience.
How much less did your haulbags were weighing after you went down?
The haulbags weight the same when coming down, just that instead of 6 I had 5.
When you came down, you found yourself in a completely different world. How do you adapt to what is happening around?
Usually when I come down from a solo expedition, where I’d been alone and isolated for weeks it takes me some time to acclimatize back to civilization.
Now there is many people changing and bringing out the best of themselves, despite the isolation, the loss of a loved one… Difficult times in which we will have to learn to deal with news situations, reinventing ourselves. We have the capacity to take advantage of it.
How do you plan your performances this year, given the current situation in the world? Do you have any preliminary dates and cities for your summer presentations?
No idea yet. I’ll see day by day. I think that now is not the best moment to do plans. Spring mountain festivals were cancelled or postponed.
Right now I’m working on new presentations (climbing and motivational talks for business companies) were apart from the last expedition I’ll talk about the parallelism and the differences between isolation in the mountains and isolation at home.
More about Silvia’s life and work read on www.vidalsilvia.com