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by Dave ferguson

Introduction | Bolivia | Peru | Equador | Essential Info

South America is justifiably famous for its white stuff. It is of the highest quality, readily available and if you go to the right places it is incredibly cheap. However, snow plodding is terribly passť, trad rock climbing in the mountains, preferably developing world mountains, is the new, errr, white.

The Andean mountains of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are part of the longest mountain chain in the world, rising violently from the Pacific before tumbling down to the sweltering forest of Amazonia. The sudden and relatively recent collision of the Nazca and Pacific Plates created sharp, steep and beautifully rocky mountains with a smattering of volcanoes. Early climbing forays concentrated on the fine peaks ignoring the equally fine rock. As a result the mountains offer huge untapped potential for quality rock routes in all styles.

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The climbing scenes in these countries are in their infancy; guidebooks rarely exist; first ascentionists are often visitors from overseas; and money for bolting is non-existent. For this reason information tends to be exchanged by word of mouth and is often unreliable. Beta on Crag Xs tends to uncover dead ends and mega-crags are often impossible to find. But that is all part of the fun. Launching off into uncharted territory is at the heart of adventurous climbing, as is the discovery of new lines and untouched rock, something the Andes are not short of.

There are an increasing number of climbers travelling the world, and not all of them do it with a sack full of tackle. Some travel with the bare essentials: shoes, harness and chalk bag. With these basics you can turn up at a crag, meet local climbers and send routes. This collection will attempt to combine the easily accessible and the untapped potential within the north and central Andes, so whether you are a travelling climber with the bare essentials or a new line hunter then you will find the Andes will answer all your prayers.



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