Cochamó valley in Chile: Vlad Capusan, Teofil Vlad soar up El ultimo Vuelo del Condor
In Valle Cochamo in Chile Romanian mountaineers Vlad Capusan and Teofil Vlad have made the first ascent of El ultimo Vuelo del Condor. The new multi-pitch rock climb is dedicated to Zsolt Torok who perished in August 2019.
Together with my good friend Teofil Vlad we decided to head to the Cochamó valley in Chile after spending five excellent days climbing in Frey, Argentina. I had heard a lot about the walls of Cochamó and their huge dimensions and was therefore very curious to see what this mystical area actually looks like.
When we got there we realised that it is much better than we had imagined and we were cut off from civilization; I think this is what we liked the most. We had all the gear we needed to establish a new line, but before doing so we decided to climb some of the iconic routes in the area and to find out more about the history and climbing ethics in Cochamó. I know from experience that becoming familiar with the local ethics and getting to know the local climbers is important before opening any new project.
We had the opportunity to talk to Daniel Seeliger, who basically established the first routes here. Our discussion with him was excellent and it helped us get a better understanding of his vision for Cochamó, which is amazing. After almost 10 days of climbing in the main areas (such as La Junta, Amphitheater & Trinidad), we made our way to Paloma valley, indicated to us by Daniel as still having a huge potential for new routes. And he was right.
On our first day we entered the valley and explored several lines. We finally stopped in the upper section of the valley below an exceptional crack that ends with some overhangs at the top, untouched and highly appealing.
We decided to give this a try next day. Back at the bivi, we chose to leave the drill, bolts, hammer and all rock pitons in order to try and climb as free and clean as possible, with trad gear only, leaving nothing behind us.
We started up the wall at first light but the weather started to break and it slowly started to rain. Nevertheless we decided to push on because the climbing started to get better and better. After a few pitches of perfect finger cracks we climbed past some offwidths and a few runout sections which led us to the upper ledge. From here we climbed two more pitches to reach the top. We didn't leave anything behind and the climbing was extraordinary, although we had to clean much rock during our 14h push. We named this route El ultimo Vuelo del Condor in memory of our friend Zsolt Torok.
Apart from the climbing highlights, this trip was of far greater significance to both of us, since the expedition to Patagonia was the last trip we had planned with our teammate and friend Zsolt Torok who died in the Fagaras Mountains last August. Unfortunately, life is ephemeral and Zsolt’s death has left a void that cannot be filled. While ascending El ultimo Vuelo del Condor I felt relief, because through this first ascent we managed to pay our last tribute to Zsolt. We hope to be a source of inspiration to some, just as Zsolt was for us.
Vlad Capusan, February 2020