Los Arenales - a granite climbing paradise in Argentina
Swiss alpinist Michael Lerjen-Demjen introduces the climbing at Los Arenales close to Mendoza in Argentina. Perfect granite and an unlimited potential at an altitude of 3000m.
I don’t really know how many times I’ve been to Argentina, I can’t remember exactly, but what I know is that while I’ve experienced my highs and lows, this immense country has never lost its charm. Argentina offers much more than just merely mountains: it’s a land that overflows with passion, beauty, serenity and tranquility.
Most climbers are attracted to El Chalten, to Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and their surrounding peaks, just like I was in the past. But this time I wanted to try something else, enjoy different stimuli, feel the thrill of something new I’d forgotten about. During a family dinner - Asado of course - we got the idea that I should head north to explore the rocks and mountains around Mendoza. My initial reply was that I wasn't interested in climbing Aconcagua, but when Manu showed me the incredible photos of Los Arenales, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.
The trip alone is worth the drive to Los Arenales: you wind your way through vineyards in Mendoza as you enjoy sweeping views across the snowy peaks of the Andes. And when you get to Los Arenales you remain stunned, there’s granite as far as the eye can see, an infinite potential nestled into a breathtaking setting. The first climb was a real pleasure and every other route was simply brilliant: the rock quality is perfect and similar to that found in America’s High Sierra.
Los Arenales is, and remains, wild, a demanding area with regards to the approaches and the pro on the routes.To this you need to add the fact that it’s located at an altitude of about 3000m. The rock climbing is varied and always interesting and when you reaching the top of the routes is always a special moment: the Estepa extends to the east, the snowcapped Andes can be seen clearly to the west, while Condor fly majestically overhead. Arenales, for me, is one of the best and most beautiful areas I’ve seen so far and I’ll definitely return in the future.
Special thanks to: Gabi Muller for her quest for something new, Nacho, Maria, Manu, Andre, Janny, Augustin and the rest of the Arenales climbing Team for the incredible work of establishing new routes!
Where: Los Arenales, Argentina
Rock: Alpine Granite
Altitude: 3000m +
Route length: 1-15 Pitches
Style: All, but most alpine trad climbing
Recomended routes: Patrizia 6a+, Fugo de Cabras 6b, Armonica 6a, Mejor no hablar de ciertas cosas 6b
Guidebook: New Topo, out mid February 2015 from Arenales climbing
Gear: Double Rack, Nuts, 2 x 50m ropes
Best time of year: Spring and autum
Important info: Climbing is wild, please note there is no rescue service nearby. Climbing here is to be considered more alpinism then simply rock climbing
Michael Lerjen-Demjen thanks: Grivel, Edelweiss Ropes, La Sportiva, Adidas Outdoor, Adidas Eyewear