Sunday, January 09, 2011

Guidebook: Espolones de San Gabriel - Espelon (5.7), La Raya (5.8)

 Espolones de San Gabriel

Approach: From Santiago head to Cajon de Maipo toward San Gabriel. By car, get directions in advance. By the Metro, get to the Los Mercedes subway stop. Head upstairs and grab a Collectivo (fixed-price taxi) to San Gabriel (as of Jan 2011, about 2500 pesos). The ride takes about an hour (maybe a bit less). Be sure to ask the driver to stop at the last bridge / stream before the town of San Gabriel (this will be a couple of minutes before the border stop, which the driver should know).

At the bridge, face up stream and see the obvious many cliff faces of San Gabriel Mountain. For Espolones de San Gabriel, you're heading to the lowest, large faces on the right of the stream.

Cross the street and bend through the two cuts in the barbed wire fence. You should be on the right side of the stream and facing upstream. Walk along the path (crossing the stream where / if necessary) until you come to a loose dirt / small scree field that is directly below a large slab that is facing the stream. Walk straight up the scree field, finding the path of least restistance to the base of the cliffs.

Middle two pitches of Espelon (5.7)
 Espolón (5.7) - Four Pitches - Trad - Fixed / Gear anchors (all pitches have fixed slings as well as good gear)

Approach: From the point where you reach the base of the cliffs on the left (facing toward the road), there is a tall, broken, low-angle face up to the right that is facing the stream. Head up to the base of that and scramble up right to the alcove at the base of a left-facing corner.

Pitch One (5.5) - 60 feet: Climb the left-facing corner and low-angle slab to the top of the crack and a boulder. Step right over the boulder to a nice ledge with a tat around a boulder on top.

Pitch Two (5.6) - 130 feet: Climb straight up toward the large overhang / small roof, clearing it on the right (though the left looks fairly straight-forward, too). There may be multiple tat stations before and after the roof, but the easiest one to work from is slightly left of the roof where there are two old pins.

Pitch Three (5.6) - 140 feet: Head straight up, follwing the path of least resistance to a fairly comfortable belay off to the left just below easy terrain on broken rock and what appears to be the summit from below.

Pitch Four (5.7) - 135 feet: Climb up over the broken rock to an easy walk for about 40 feet to a small offwidth / wide crack. Climbing the offwidth is the crux. I personally climbed the sketchy crack to the left after making the exposed step across. The sketchy crack was actually pretty easy despite the gear not feeling 100% secure. Rope drag can be an issue with this pitch.

Descent: Walk off the back and to the climber's right by down-climbing easier-than-it-looks terrain. The slide your way down the loose dirt and rock until it is easy to walk back around to the base on the right.

Upper part of La Raya (5.8)
La Raya (5.8) - One Pitch - 135 feet - Trad - Bolted Anchor

Approach: This is on the face that faces the road (directly to the left and downhill from the upper slab that faces the stream).

La Raya: Start at a couple of trees below an obvious crack system that starts about a third of the way up the face (about 50 feet below the stream-facing slab). There is one bolt about 10 feet up as your first piece. Climb up to the bolt, and head straight up the crack system to the top. There are two bolts up and right of where you'll top out.

Descent: Rap off with two 50m ropes.

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