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Here is a write up by Dougald MacDonald for Climbing Magazine’s online Hot Flashes

http://www.climbing.com/news/hotflashes/big_new_routes_in_isolated_argentinean_valley/

100 or so photos have been uploaded to the Pirate Valley website

http://web.me.com/kondus/Pirate_Valley/Photos.html

Here is a link to a short (2.5 minute) video about the expedition

http://www.vimeo.com/3947686

An American team comprised of three NOLS instructors, Josh Beckner, Jared Spaulding, Dave Anderson successfully completed a first ascent on a 3000 foot wall in the remote Piritas Valley of the upper Rio Turbio drainage in Argentina. In 2008 Beckner explored the region and caught a glimpse of a large granite wall. After extensive research Beckner found no indication that wall had been climbed and recruited Spaulding and Anderson to return in 2009. On February 26, 2009 the team crossed Lago Puelo by boat and hired a local gaucho to transport their gear 20 miles by horseback. “Suffering” from sunburn due to the exceptional weather, the trio established a gear cache and the convergence of the Rio Turbio and Turbio Quatro Rivers. At 7:00 am the next morning the Americans were awakened by three Canadians, Paul McSorely, Will Stanhope and Andrew Querner who were on their way out of the valley. The Canadians informed the Americans that not only had a local Argentine climbing poineered a route up the north face of the central tower in the Piritas Valley, but they had just completed a traverse of the three main formations as well as adding an additional route to the central tower. They did however describe a striking line on the right tower that remained unclimbed.

Taking the news in stride, Beckner, Spaulding and Anderson refocussed their energy on establishing a new route up the north face of the right tower. They spent the next week hauling their gear along the Rio Turbio through the dense stands of bamboo-like cana colihue which required the use of machetes to negotiate, despite the passage of two previous climbing parties. The Americans started their ascent on March 9, but before reaching the proper base of the tower they travelled through 1500 feet of “approach” terrain which included several 5th class pitches up to 5.11 and a small steep snowfield. The route initially followed a sweeping dihedral that turned out to be the crux of the climb (5.11). From there the team followed a series of cracks on the left side of the tower. When the crack system ended a short pendulum provided access to a splitter hands crack and another corner system. The direct sun from a cloudless sky and temperatures close to 80 F zapped the the Americans strength and necessitated the third jug while hauling extra water. Due to the lengthy and complex approach the trio was caught by darkness four pitches from the top and bivied on a tiny “butt” ledge for the night. Fortunately the weather held and Beckner, Spaulding and Anderson topped the next morning. After one rappel down the south side of the formation the team was able to scramble around to the north and down climb (4th and easy 5th class) a series of complicated slabs, rappel across a snow field returning to their high camp in 6 hours after summiting. Overall the Americans ascended 2,200 feet of roped climbing. The rock was excellent fine grained granite with a host of cracks systems mostly tips to hands in size. They named to route Voces en la Noche, V 5.11 A0 (Voices in the Night) for the unexplainable human voices heard by all the climbers during the ascent, most likely produced by the hundreds of waterfalls echoing throughout the valley.

Heavy rain on the hike out provided challenging river crossings and the mandatory use of a sketchy tyrolean. Back at their base camp the Beckner, Spaulding and Anderson packed up their gear and loaded it into 2 tiny “K-mart” style inflatable rafts, equipped with hand made paddles, and floated out along the Rio Turbio to Lago Puelo to completed their adventure in 17 days.

We still have a few things to wrap before boarding the bus tomorrow morning, but the packs are more or less loaded and ready to be loaded on the backs of horses at the terminus of the Rio Turbio Valley. I managed to put together a collection of video clips. Enjoy!  

http://vimeo.com/3366320

 

In a land famous for it’s beef we ended the day by sampling some choice cuts

 

toilet paper and quail eggs

toilet paper and quail eggs

 

 

120 lbs of food for 20 days

 

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Jared buying (pirate) supplies them roaming the Streets of Bariloche, Argentina

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We knew we had found a good place when they had a climbing wall by the entrance

Screaming kids, fat guys leaning against you, no leg room, bad food-that you have to pay for, yup all part of the flying experience

Dave still making the camera blur after 24+ hours of travel

Dave still making the camera blur after 24+ hours of travel