Silvia Vidal’s new route, Espiadimonis (6b, A4, IV+ 1500m) on the Serrania Avalancha wall in Chile. Vidal climbed the route alone over the course of thirty-two days in February and March. [Photo] Silvia Vidal
Catalan big wall specialist Silvia Vidal has made a new first ascent in Chilean Patagonia. Her new route named Espiadimonis (dragonfly in Catalan) ascends the Serrania Avalancha wall. Vidal graded the 1300 meter route A4/6b, until the final 200 meters where the slope angle declines and there is a brief stretch of snow towards the summit (graded at IV+). Climbed in a single push from February 8 through March 10, Vidal spent close to two months alone during the entirety of her expedition. Of the total thirty-two days she spent on the wall, sixteen were spent in the portaledge, when bad weather made climbing impossible.
While the area has seen little climbing traffic due to the arduous access, there has been one other attempt on the wall. This route, named Araucania, was attempted by Martin Molina “Fideo”, Luis Molina and Mariana Gallego in 2007 but did not reach the summit.
Vidal notes that the approach was a struggle, involving a long trek through dense jungle, and two river crossings. To help her carry gear Vidal hired two other climbers. On the trek in, each of them carried two 25kg loads, while on the return Vidal made five trips each with loads of 25kg on her own. The wall itself begins straight out of the lake, so Vidal was forced to carry in an inflatable raft from which she begin the climb. Vidal chose her line after viewing photographs of the area taken by Martin Molina in 2007.
“I choose it because there is a big roof at 350m. From the ground that looked good for a wall camp. I knew about rain and that it was dangerous to be too exposed with the portaledge. So, my choice depended on the roofs, for safety. Also, it seemed a nice line. The wall is huge but not always too steep.”
The weather was a challenge, as Vidal experienced many days of rain that caused a large part of the route to become a waterfall. The descent off the route took three days of rappelling. Twice her ropes got stuck and she was forced to cut them. When she had descended she found that rains had swollen the rivers. She waited for four days (three of which were fortunately dry), the rivers shrunk enough to be crossed safely.
Vidal is noted for her ethics when soloing big walls, as she never brings any method of communication with the outside world.
Vidal during her monthlong climb of Espiadimonis. For more information on Vidal see her feature “Life is Lilac” in Alpinist 23, our Web Feature on soloists or the other Newswire reports on her climbs [Photo] Silvia Vidal