RORAIMA TEPUI

Posted on: September 1, 2003


Guyana. We had spent over a week hacking a new trail to the base and were relieved to be free climbing on awesome, compact quartzite.

Two days later we headed back up with our portaledges, prepared for a five-day ascent. In 1973 a British team climbed the obvious corner system, the North Prow (VI A3, 460m, Anthoine-Brown-MacInnes-Whillans, 1973), so we chose to climb a series of overhanging corners to its left. The featured rock of mostly horizontal cracks made for exciting leads as we pounded pitons on the sharp end, while free climbing out steep roofs and across traverses covered in vegetation. In the end we used only six bolts on the route, all at belays.

Almost all the pitches were onsighted except for parts where we had to clean vegetation or get in tricky pins. After cleaning and protecting, these pitches were then led and followed free.

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The route (VI 5.11+ R, 490m) was dramatically steep, and the exposure exciting. At the fourth belay the mist backed off to reveal that we were overhanging the base by at least 100 feet. Two days into the climb it started raining; though it didnít stop until we topped out, the steepness of the wall provided protection, and we got wet only in strong winds. The final two pitches, which we climbed in full-on rain, were horrendous, with thick, unstable, overhanging vegetation that was running with water and infested with scorpions. We joined the British route on this last section and found bongs, pitons and biners that had rusted so badly over thirty years we could bend them with our hands. We asked the locals about other tepuis in Guyana and Venezuela, seeking information about bigger cliffs. From the sounds of it, the potential is amazing; it appears there is a lot of adventure yet to be had.

— Jared Ogden, Durango, Colorado, USA



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