Silvia Vidal establishes Espiadimonis up Serrania Avalancha in Patagonia
In February and March 2012 Spanish alpinist Silvia Vidal established the Espiadimonis (A4/6b, 1500m) up Serrania Avalancha in Chilean Patagonia.
If you don't hear from Silvia Vidal for a while, you can safely bet that she's climbing somewhere. And alone as usual. The reason for the Catalan's recent absence from below the radar is Espiadimonis, a massive 1500m high big wall up the relatively unknown peak Serrania Avalancha in Chilean Patagonia. Vidal's latest adventure includes a boat to reach the start of the route and a a virgin summit reached after 32 days alone on the wall... Her report is published below.
Serrania Avalancha by Siliva Vidal
Serrania Avalancha is reached by navigating through the Valdivian forest which requires a machete to open the "way". Starting from the tiny village Puerto Cárdenas, this takes about 8 hours if you know where to go and involves crossing some wild rivers. To do this I hired two climbers who helped me with the haulbags, and we did 2 carries of 25 kg loads each.
The face plunges into the lake and to reach the base of my route I used an inflatable dinghy. After spending two weeks fixing 350 meters to the first wall camp, I stayed on the face from 8th February to 10th March, 32 days alone without ever descending. I climbed circa 1300 meters until the vetical angle eased off and then ascended another 200m to reach the summit via easier terrain and snow. Of the 32 days, 16 were spent in the portaledge without being able to climbing or maneuvering because of the terrible weather.
During my almost two months alone in the area it rained a lot, which is normal for this area and something I had expected. Heavy rains can last for days on end, so much so that at times the wall transformed into a kind of river canyon with waterfalls, making it impossible to climb or do any kind of manoeuvres, hence the 16 days spent in the hammock without doing anything. Furthermore, when it rained it was impossible to rappel through some of the sections so I had frequent doubts as to whether the summit or the descent would even be possible.
Getting to the top was only half the adventure. After the summit I abseiled down the same route and this took a further 3 days, during which I battled hard against stuck ropes and, in the end, I had to cut them on two occasions. I tried my best to recover them by repeating the pitches, hanging off the rope but unfortuntaly nothing worked. I mention this because for me that is rubbish that remains there. In the remains of the old fisherman's hut close to the lake I came across some trash. This area hasn't been frequented much, in my mind these things really matter.
I then spent a week carrying the haulbags back down (five 25 kg carries alone) and at one point I realised that I could not cross a river, it had become completely impassable. I had to wait 4 days to cross it and I was really lucky that they were 3 consecutive days with no rain which resulted in the river level descending considerably.
For the record, the Serrania Avalancha face had been breached once previously by the route "Araucania" established by the Argentinean climbers Martín Molina "Fideo", Luis Molina and Mariana Gallego, but the summit remained virgin. Espiadimonis means dragonfly in Catalan and the route is graded A4/6b, and as always I went without any means of communication, no telephone, no radio, no weather reports. For those wishing to visit this area, bear in mind that at Puerto Cárdenas there are no shops, no phones, no internet. The next nearest place is 40 km north called Chaitén but there is no phone, too, just small shops to buy provisions.