Mountain Journeys

Adventure – on the edge!

#mountaineeringspain

Safely down from the route after the scary abseil

Dos Hermanos - VS
The online guide / topo suggested this route to be 'the best at its grade in the area for mountain rock climbing'!
We'd suggest this information is a little out of date and some dramatic changes have taken place.

Occasionally I hear about the enchanted area around Sanchet, known as the 'haunted walls' & 'pleasure domes'. These huge rock walls are impressive and are a natural draw to any adventurous rock climber / mountaineer. They require more effort than the standard 'Costa clip up' type routes of Sella & Toix. The rewards could be high, but so too is the danger level. These walls are not well frequented, not well documented, have complex approaches and tricky route finding. But still they are a draw, the setting is possibly the best in the area, maybe the best i've ever been to.

A couple of years ago I climbed a new route on these crags 150 Jupiters and was blown away by the stunning setting and potential for more exploration and new routes.

I was joined by Anne, Anna, Richie, and Kim. All up for an adventure and wearing helmets!
The approach walk was easy and through pretty scenery, soon we arrived at the base of the initial tower (the 1st brother).  I'd already checked out this tower and had decided to by-pass, moving straight on to the big tower (big brother), a short scramble got us up there easy enough.

Geared up and ready to go, we climbed a 2 teams. Suddenly it was me leading the way, first on the route. That wasn't in the plan! Off I went, slow & steady, checking each hold and looking for gear placements. The others all happily chatting away at the base of the route. The further up I climbed the more disturbed I became, with most of the rock being loose and any protection placed also being in / on loose rock, this was not a happy place. The voices of my friends laughing and joking became a major distraction, even after warning them of the looseness they appeared oblivious to the dangers and my predicament (although i'm sure they weren't).

Fear began to creep in to my thoughts, I had to fight this off, won't help. Arriving at a large ledge there was a sigh of relieve, but alas this was brief, there was no protection and it was all crumbling around me!
After much searching and placing 4 anchors I felt safe enough to shout 'Safe'. Once the others began to climb they quickly realised what i'd been trying to say. This place is Scary, and that's with a capital 'S!

Kim led the next pitch, this time to a better belay ledge. She then continued up a corner crack. This looked great, but was actually very loose and had little protection. The potential for a big fall onto nasty ground was all too real. She managed to place a good wire and from that retreated back to the ledge. The others now joined us on this now rather busy belay ledge and it was decided we would all retreat.

An abseil of about 25m was set up off the side of the route. Guess what, this had plenty of falling rock on it too. With ropes running over sharp edges, and rock missiles everywhere, this was a very engaging descent with good teamwork required throughout!

With everyone safely off the route and only a small amount of gear abandoned, we stopped for lunch. All feeling relieved but glad to have tried.

Adventure is when we don't know the outcome. All too often we do know (or at least have a very good idea) the outcome. It would be easy to see this as a wasted day, when little was climbed and too much danger was seen. I don't think any of us walked away thinking that. I certainly didn't. A day such as this is an experience that will be remembered for ever. It will add to our bank of fortitude.

As an added bonus, we stumbled upon a wonderful slab of rock during the walk out. Some bolts already in place and some trad routes possible. We did a bit of both.

A good day 🙂

Big thanks to my fellow adventurers today: Anne, Anna, Kim, and Richie.

Mark

#belayanchors

A very busy belay set up!

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