Thursday, 10 November 2011

250 square miles of (mostly) unclimbed boulders...

Who hasn't dreamed of discovering such a place, where everything you climb is a first ascent on perfect rock? Vast, Dali-esque boulderfields, in a desert surrounded by volcanoes, and it's at altitude too, so the 'make or break' temperature is friction friendly.
So, as I was saying in my last post, on the summer trip across South America, we arrived in Bolivia and headed out into the desert to check out Valle de las Rocas.
This venue is already legendary amongst climbers, despite the fact it is so remote, there are hardly any problems and those that exist are poorly documented. In the global search for the holy grail of adventure bouldering, Bolivia might just be the answer.

The route. The boulders.

We arrived in Mallcu in the dark, so I had no idea what the landscape was like. I couldn't sleep, so I got up early and walked up the hill opposite to photograph the sunrise and the volcanoes. Well, forget that. Look at the boulders behind the village! Incredible. There are also a few boulders that I climbed on in the river beds you can see, but the good stuff is on the plateau. You could spend a few months just in this sector alone, and you can bet that absolutely nothing has been climbed here.
Well, I was pretty excited, but I had no idea what was in store.

The 'small' boulder field behind Mallcu. These photos aren't 'stitched'. Just enjoy the view!

Mallcu. The left side of the previous photo. Just to give you an idea.

Right next to the road and waiting for a first ascent...

This is fairly touristy. There are a couple of videos on youtube of 4x4s in this section.

Overhanging. Perfect pockets. Ticked.

More boulders next to the road.
 So we jump in the jeep and head around the corner into the next valley and 'Boom', I can't believe my eyes. Boulders. Lots of boulders. Thousands upon thousands of them stretching into the distance.

A lifetime's worth.

Bouldering vastness.

Here's something interesting.
I might not actually have been to Valle de las Rocas.

There's an article about Valle de las Rocas in 'Climbing' magazine here, and a couple of photos of the area here, but both of these concern a different area to the north that the 701 goes through. What this might mean, is that all the rock in these photos is unclimbed!
Imagine that.

Look at the rocks in the distance!

The houses (bottom right) give a sense of scale.


Most of this stuff is big. That canyon in the middle is at least a couple of pitches high, if not more.

Check out the prows on the right.

So I'm going to leave you with these. The high-res versions are something else, and there are lots of them. As usual, I couldn't stop taking pictures.

If anyone's planning on going, let me know. I'm itching to get back out there for some mind-blowing bouldering photos...

...and the Salar de Uyuni is just up the road.

I've been out in Northumberland a couple of times recently getting some photos, but I'll leave them until next time.

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