Imagine enduring your first steep multi-hour hike to the breath-taking upper valley granite walls of Cochamó, and just as you come out of the forest you see smoke. As you approach, you follow it down to its source to see a blackened granite stones circled to form a fire pit, tents with plastic tarps, garbage blown to the side, dirty pots and pans, and clumps of gear spread out. And not just one site, but many. In the distant bushes, remnants of feces and toilet paper.
Many nature-seeking hikers complained of these scenes, and the shocking interruption it caused as they took in the human impact of these campers. Over the past decade, an increasing number of people, mostly climbers, camping in the Anfiteatro, Trinidad, Paloma and Arco Iris has had dramatic impacts on the fragile ecosystems found there.
There is no one in charge of stopping disrespectful behavior towards Cochamó's nature except for you. Speak through your own example and share friendly chats with those you may encounter along your path.
As a result, two nonprofits (Organización Valle Cochamó and Friends of Cochamó), along with neighboring landowners, climbers and other tourist operators, have, in the past two years, pushed a campaign to minimize these impacts. They have implemented some of the following guidelines to follow.
Only use bivouacs when necessary as part of the logistics for multi-pitch climbs that cannot be done from the camps in the La Junta sector.
If you have to spend the night in the high altitude valleys, please bivouac only.
Help minimize the impact we have on the fragile environment of these upper valleys.
Keep your bivouac at least 100 meters from the main trail and running water, and out of sight of day-hikers.
Keep your bivy out of site from day hikers. Use Leave-No-Trace techniques. Make sure your bivouac is tidy, and inconspicuous, so uninformed visitors will not assume it's a camp site. In the past these "camps" have attracted more campers, especially non climbers who don't necessarily depend on advanced camps for having success on their route.
Many people drink this water down river. And we are many that visit the upper valleys. Wash at least 70 meters from water sources and use biodegradable soap, or even better, don't use soap.