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Nick and Bec's Big Trip Starting on the 29th of June 2008 Bec and I will be starting a year long adventure, spending 6 months in Africa and another 6 months in South America. It should be lots of fun.

Fun with Nick and Bec. Climbing a 6b at El Salto, Mendoza

BOLIVIA | Tuesday, 31 March 2009 | Views [794] | Comments [3]

We are in Potosi, Bolivia the highest city in the world apparently at around 4060 metres high. It feels high. We arrived in Bolivia via the Bolivian Altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni. Here is blog for today, Bec and I climbing.

13th March - Climbing at Mendoza

This is what all days should be made of. Today we went climbing with the 2007-2008 Argentinian National Champion, Federico Zambrano. A friendly, brilliant climber from Mendoza. We climbed until we could climb no more. I even did a sport lead climb with a grade of 6b ish.

Now that I have given all the highlights away, I will expand on how the day unfolded.

Federico had car trouble, so our 9am start became 9:40am, but he turned up eventually with greasy hands after fighting with his Nissan, unsuccessfully as we found out, becuase a clapped out old Ford was waiting for us outside. With us all inside we rattled along, introducing oursleves as we left the city. We found ourselves back on the road towards the border, stunningly straight, with rows of millimetre perfect grape vines going on forever either side of the road. They must grow an obscene amount of grapes here and drink gallons and litres (imperial and metric to keep everyone happy) of the stuff. By stuff I mean wine. As you can tell I am a dedicated wine coniseur.

After a few kilometres the road begins to bend around the growing mountain range in front of us. The ridges dusted in brown bare rock and sparse scrub. Behind these rising hills are the true Andean mountains. Some where in there is Aconcagua, The highest mountain in South America, but even the ones we can see are over six thousand metres, snow and glaciar capped. We turn off the route to Chile and after a series of twists and turns the climbing wall appears, named El Salto.

Federico, Bec and I strap on our climbing harnesses and squeeze into our climbing shoes. The shoes are as uncomfortable as ever. Probably worse than I remember. Within minutes we are ready to go. Federico leads and I belay. It seems like only seconds have ticked by and he is at the top, setting up the anchor. Before I know it and before I am completely ready he is down and I am tied in and taking my first tentative steps. The rock is good, grippy. This is not too bad. Today should be a good day, which it definatley becomes. I concentrate, the holds are good and I complete the series of moves fast, probably a bit too fast, but it flows. I have no worries about the height and so far the exposure is fine. I reach the top. Becs turn next, she completes it easy.

We are doing alright seeing that we climbed once in Bariloche and then our best estimate is about nine months ago. My arms feel like jelly writing this though. We each topped out a few more climbs, then Federico offered me the opportunity to lead a pitch. Before my brain had the time to think my mouth had opened and said, "yes please!". My brain is catching up and saying, "What did you do that for. You have trouble walking along a flat pavement!" Then before my brain had a chance to do anything except rant, my hand takes the rope ties in and my legs walk to the bottom of the pitch with rope trailing behind. So I am committed.

The first quick draw, or anchor point, is miles away. So after what seems like an externity I reach it and clip in. There that feels better. I progress, placing one foot then the other moving around the vertical rock face, pausing to look around the arete searching for the next hand hold. Writing it down makes it sound so easy, but I was scared stiff and fear was thumping away in my mind. I did it though and topped out after about four or five anchors.

I smile like a kid in a sweetie shop for the next hour or so. I have completed my second lead climb. Yah for me.

We continued to climb until we could climb no more, which did not take too long. Lets face it only another couple of climbs or so. We did work a tougher problem though; many, many times with great instruction from Federico. By now the strength in our arms was mostly gone, so we decided to try another wall next to the abandoned railway line and the raging brown river. Unfortunatley we were so kanckered that our climbing did not eventuate to much here. Shame!

So yeah that was about it. Federico dropped us back oof at the hostal and we slipped out for dinner. We are now back at the hostal resting our weary, aching limbs and smiling over the success of our penultimate day in Argentina.

Here is my techy footnote. The climnbs were graded around 6b French system so 19 Australian system and between E1 and E2 British system. There you go lots of numbers and letters, but do they really mean anything!

And some additional. On the radio in the clapped out Ford I heard more Phil Collins. This time it was Just Give Me one More Night. The 1980s live on for ever.



You have made my day. I really laughed. Fancy Nick climbing up instead of down! Photos excellent on Facebook.

  Pat Apr 1, 2009 7:14 PM


A great read Nick, sounds like fun.

  sue Apr 5, 2009 6:18 AM


The views & lake down below looked fantastic

  maureen Apr 5, 2009 1:51 PM

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