Planning Your Climbing Trip


¿Cuánto tiempo debería pasar en Cochamó?

Aunque algunos escaladores pasan meses en el valle, el estándar es de entre dos y cuatro semanas. Si el tiempo acompaña, estás bien preparado, etc. es posible escalar una o tal vez dos rutas de más de 10 largos en una semana. Leer "Estrategias para escalar en Cochamo" para ayudarte a planear tu visita día a día.

What do you recommend I climb?

Cragging is great but bigwall routes is where Cochamó's magic is. Check out the routes section and be sure to ask personnel from Camping La Junta (nearly all are climbers) and other returning climbers about recommended routes for your grade level.

¿Cuál es la mejor época para escalar?

December to end of March. See the page When to go.

So, I've heard this place labeled the Yosemite of South America. Well, is it?

No, it's Cochamó. And Yosemite is the Cochamó of North America. But, as a first impression and as a four-word description, it's not bad.

I'm traveling without climbing gear. Can I rent in the valley?

You will not be able to rent gear in the valley. In general, it's difficult to find any place that rents gear in the area.

Travelers, that are also climbers, that are traveling light, should bring their basic gear: harness, ATC, leash, shoes, chalk.

An option for some is to contract a climbing guide. See the guiding services page.

The surest and least expensive option, although heavier in the pack, is to carry your own equipment. See "What to Bring" below.

I don't have a climbing partner. Is it difficult to find one there?

In high season, it is possible to partner with other climbers. You can post on the Compañeros de Escalada / Climber Partner Board, leave a note on the Camping La Junta info board or simply talk to other climbers in the camping.

Do I need to reserve?

Yes, reservations are required. The best climbing season is the high tourist season months, so the valley tends to be at maximum capacity. Before December and after March are much less crowded but also less likely to have good climbing weather. Also look for discounts at the campground for longer stays.

Is there free camping?

No. In past years the valley began to collapse due to a large influx of visitors and a high volume of irresponsible camping in its wilderness areas. This impact caused locals to generate a management plan to care for the valley. Please collaborate by respecting the recommendations. If paying for an authorized campsite and the necessary planning that a reserve demands is not for you, please consider another destination. Patagonia is full of less popular places with great climbing. In any case, in any destination, practice leave-no-trace ethics and respect the environment and locals.

A Basic Strategy

A pesar de prepararse para un exitoso viaje de escalada, a muchos escaladores les ocurre que sin saber muy bien por qué, al final del viaje escalaron poco y caminaron demasiado para su gusto. Más abajo se detallan básicas y eficientes estrategias para disfrutar de las rutas y la belleza del valle. Siete días no es lo ideal para un viaje de escalada, pero sirve para ejemplificar un plan de escalada paso a paso.

Day 1: Arriving to Cochamó Valley. First, make the 2-to-3-hour trip by bus or vehicle from Puerto Montt / Varas to Cochamó town. If you're going via bus, start from Puerto Montt and get the earliest bus (be there by 7:30 a.m.).

Next, get your taxi or make the long gravel-road walk to the trailhead. And finally make the 4-to-6 hour hike to La Junta Camping or Refugio Cochamó at the valley's center (walls all around). If you'r coordinating with packhorses to carry in your gear, it's best to stay in Cochamó town and get a taxi to the trailhead where you'll meet your packhorses in the morning. Set up a base camp at the camping.

Day 2: Relax, waterfalls and cragging. Most people take a day to relax at this point, go to the waterfalls and crag. Also get your route logistics from other climbers and the topo book. Too many have failed to learn about the approach, where the route starts, get lost and loose prescious time and energy. If your rushed, mega strong or just anxious, pack this day into Day 3's itinerary.

Day 3: Approach to an upper valley. Day 3: Hike to the upper valleys. Hike to one of the bivouac sites (no tents please) in the upper valleys near the walls. Most of these - Trinidad, Anfiteatro, Paloma, Arco Iris - have a 2-to-4 hour approach. Set up your bivouac out of site of hikers, eat, prepare the rack and sleep.

Day 4: Climb a multipitch. Start early. Don't forget your headlamp. For example, Bienvenidos a mi Insomnio is 20 pitches, and most will do this in a very long day. Return to your bivy, eat and sleep.

Day 5. Rest. Or if you're not tired, yesterday's route wasn't big enough or your super strong, keep climbing.

Day 6: Climb another mutipitch. Climb another. Some will, after the completing the route, hike back down on the same day to Camping La Junta.

Day 7: Repeat the two previous days or return to the camping. Climb or return to Camping La Junta or refugio. Go relax at a waterfall area, beach on the river, deep-water bouldering pool and cragging near the camping. Plan for a hike into another valley to climb its classics or head out.

*Important: Any of these days can be interrupted by rain. That's why it's good to be able to retreat to another base camp in the case it continues. Best to plan on having extra days for bad weather.

Also see When to go, Logistics and Camping for more practical information to plan your trip.

What Climbing Gear To Bring

Ropes: Most routes have pitches and descents less than 60 meters. Bring two 60-meter ropes.

equipo para la escalada en Cochamó

Helmet: This should be your most important piece of gear. Cochamó is a new area with unpredictable possibilities to injure your head - lots of new routes, loose rock, unforseen run outs, etc.

Rack: Have two sets of cams. One set of offsets are especially helpful, especially on the smaller side. One set of nuts with a decent assortment of micros. One or two large cams (Camalot num. 4 and 5). A num. 5, for example, is particularly nice for the classics Al Centro y Adentro and Las Manos del Día.

el rack para la escalada en Cochamó

Pulleys: To get to some walls, pulleys can be essential. Some trails access walls by crossing fixed lines and cables that span rivers sometimes too difficult to cross by foot.

Rings & cord: Many routes need rings and/or cord for rappelling. It's wise to carry some on routes less frequently climbed. Don't forget a small knife or scissors for cutting. Ask about your route from other climbers or the climber camp hosts in Camping La Junta.

Aid gear: Many first ascents and existing aid lines require pins, pitons, copper heads and other aid gear. Beaks are some of the most commonly used.

Gear for opening new routes: The majority of first ascents require bolts. Please only use stainless steel and nothing less than 10 mm or 3/8" in diameter.

Equipo para abrir rutas de escalada

Portaledges: They are not necessary for repeating most routes. Having a portaledge can be convenient on the rock especially if you get stuck in bad weather or plan to establish a new route up a particularly long steep line. Most climbers, however, leave the extra weight to lug around at home.

Insurance: Having insurance that covers helicopter rescue may increase the chances of a quick rescue. Check out the American Alpine Journal membership which may still provide helicopter rescue insurance for climbers.

Cash: Withdrawl or exchange the money you'll need in Puerto Varas or Puerto Montt before arriving. Cochamó town does not have ATM machines, banks or places to exchange money.

Paper & pen: Don't depend solely on battery from your camera to take photos of the topos. Charging your batteries here can be difficult to impossible.

Other Climbing Destinations

The most common climber circuit for the area is the Bariloche area (Frey), La Comarca (around Bolsón) and Piedra Parada. And for those who stay most of the summer months, others will include Chaltén, Valle los Condores and Arenales, too.

Check out the Climber's Circuit Map. It includes the main areas most climbers hit during their trip.

Some other destinations to consider:

Cerro Colorado: PataClimb - Cerro Colorado

Chaltén: PataClimb - Chaltén

Frey: PataClimb - Frey

Valle de los Condores: guide in pdf format

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