New Acopan 5.12: Boltless on Lead

Posted on: March 21, 2010


The east face of Acopan Tepui, Gran Sabana, Venezuela, showing 10 Pounds of Tequila (5.12, 1,100'), which Brittany Griffith, Kate Rutherford, Mikey Schaefer and Jonathan Thesenga established in mid-February without lead bolts. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer / mikeyschaeferphotography.com

Brittany Griffith, Kate Rutherford, Mikey Schaefer and Jonathan Thesenga recently returned from a jungle expedition to Acopan Tepui in Gran Sabana, Venezuela. From February 11-19, the Americans established 10 Pounds of Tequila (5.12, 1,100') all-free up the northern end of the tepui's east face.

Tepuis, the sandstone walls that rise from the canopy of northern South America, are notoriously difficult to protect; as a result, most hard routes sport numerous bolts. However, this team kept their bolt kit on reserve while leading.

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"Finding our way through the steep lower pitches proved difficult," Thesenga wrote. "Vertical cracks were rare and when they did appear they were chossy. The clean climbing was found navigating to and from the horizontal crack systems, which were impossible to see how good they were or if they were even cracks until you committed to the section and reached the break (now we understood why other teams had placed so many bolts on their routes!)."

The team spent four days freeing and fixing to a ledge on a small pillar. A crux bulge three pitches above camp took a day of work. Above that, the team cleaned and climbed vertical but rotten jungle rock to the summit. They rappelled back to the ledge and descended the next day, placing five single rap bolts. In celebration back at base camp that night, February 20, the team finished off their tequila.

Thesenga's full trip report is available at Patagonia's blog, thecleanestline.com. A detailed route topo is available on Mike Schaefer's website.

Kate Rutherford climbs compact sandstone low on the route. Placing only natural gear, the team relied on sparse horizontal features. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer / mikeyschaeferphotography.com

A luxurious pool 10 minutes from the base of the route cooled off the team most evenings. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer / mikeyschaeferphotography.com

Brittany Griffith leads a 5.12 pitch on 10 Pounds of Tequila. [Photo] Mikey Schaefer / mikeyschaeferphotography.com

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