Cochamo: The most magical place you’ve never heard of

We’re back from our amazing trip to the Cochamo Valley. Although I’d like to write a huge blog post about how incredible the experience was, unfortunately we’re back on the road with too many balls in the air. But below is a quick recap and some photos from the adventure.

As I mentioned in our last post, (remember here), in order to reach the Cochamo Valley we had to do a fairly burly hike in over 10 kilometers of steep, muddy trail. When we arrived at the trailhead, we loaded all of our food and gear on the pack horses. The plan was for me to go in on horseback with all the gear while Beckett and Stevie hiked in with Soleil.

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Below, filling my water bottle right out of the stream. You can’t beat the water in Patagonia!

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Here are Stevie and Beckett loaded up and ready to hit the trail. We were rushed to get in before a big rain storm was due. As it turned out, we just made it to our destination before the storm started dumping.

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Our destination was a sweet little cabin right in the heart of the valley called the Refugio Cochamo. It is owned by our friends, Daniel and Silvina, and is THE spot for staging climbing trips.

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Below, Stevie and Sol crossing the Rio Cochamo near the end of the 10k hike.

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Below, our horses at the final destination in the valley. Granite walls tower in the background.

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Hanging with our friends, Daniel and Silvina.

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So to just sum it up in a nut shell, the Cochamo Valley is a paradise. It’s like the land of the lost. Completely surreal and unbelievably beautiful.

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Just as advertised, the Valley is surrounded by giant granite walls in every direction!

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During our first days in the valley we waited out the nasty weather, and when it cleared we got out and enjoyed the hiking.

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Below, Soleil uses the spotting scope to check out the big wall routes…

Looking for Daddy

Below, Beckett sits below a giant old growth tree….

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Below, Soleil and Stevie enjoying time with Zen, the nine year old son of our friends who own the Refugio.

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Soleil practicing her musical skills…

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During our daily hikes, Soleil was exposed to crossing the streams and rivers on tree bridges and by rock hopping.

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After a couple of days, she insisted on walking across them on her own. This one in particular became her obsession. Every time we approached this little bridge that covers a mud field, she’d get real serious and would run to the start.

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Note the serious look on her face as she launches into the crux. Not exactly easy for a one year old!

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After 4 days of on-and-off weather, we finally saw a good window approaching. Beckett and I packed up the climbing gear and made plans to head up to the Trinidad Valley to attempt one of the classic routes, Manos Del Dia.

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We hiked in and set up at an already established climbers high camp. We were the only ones there.

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From our camp we could see the wall we were shooting for, the South Trinidad.

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We were armed with our own hand drawn topo of the wall. The climbing on this particular route was supposed to be sustained and technical. We were both fired up.

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Below, racking up for the route.

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The next morning at the base of the wall it was cold, wet, and I was nervous. But Beckett seemed pretty stoked!

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He led off on a super techy, runout 5.11+ slab pitch that was still wet from all the rain. Watching him march up the wall with such confidence was inspiring.

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Before my accident I had kind of been Beckett’s climbing mentor. I taught him how to project routes and I took him up his first big wall ever. That first wall happened to be The Nose on El Capitan, which we did light-and-fast in a straight 19 hour push. At that time I should have known this kid was a baller.

In the time I’ve been away from the sport, Beckett has come into his own. He’s become a master of all climbing disciplines. He is at home on everything from wet slabs to roof cracks to steep finger cracks to heinous off-widths. Very few climbers are so strong and competent in such a vast number of skills at such a high grade of climbing.

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It was a real pleasure to see what he’s become, and I felt super proud just tying into a rope with him.

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Our push up Manos Del Dia was going really well until just 200 feet below the summit we sustained a core shot on our lead rope. This ended our summit push, but we were both content with the climbing we had done. We decided to make the safe decision to go down.

Fortunately we had enough good rope left to retreat the route.

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Once safely back on the ground, we evaluated our options. After talking we decided to target another classic route on the other side of the valley.

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Our plan was for Beckett to take one day to move our camp over to a place called the Amphitheater while I went all the way back to the Cochamo Valley to sort out a new lead rope. After moving our camp, he’d descend and we’d regroup.

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When Beckett arrived back at the Refugio, we decided to use the weather window and take Stevie up her first multi-pitch climb!

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We picked a super sweet 2-pitch finger crack called Apnea. As usual, Stevie proceeded to absolutely crush it.

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This girl has climbing talent, no doubt. She was so happy to get her first multi-pitch climb done.

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I shot this photo from the valley floor. Beckett is above, and Stevie below on her way up the route.

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Sol was pretty excited watching Mommy climb up and she tried to follow her. She didn’t get far… but she tried… real hard.

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The next day Beckett and I hiked back up to our new high camp and set our sights on one of the hardest routes in the area, Al Centro Y Adentro. They call this route the Astroman of Cochamo.

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Below, ready to charge…

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Below, Beckett heading up broken cracks and small roofs on the lower headwall. The climbing was demanding, super sustained, and had everything from tip cracks to full body off-widths.

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Below, Beckett busting through one of the wide cruxes…

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Me coming up the lower headwall…

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Taking a break at a nice ledge

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Beckett heading up, into, and over the famous duck flake

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Looking at the upper headwall, the route not letting up…

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Of all the climbs I’ve done around the world, I’d have to say that this was the best rock climb of my life. I know, that’s a big statement, but it’s true.

The consistency and quality of climbing combined with the remote and beautiful location sets this route in a leage of its own! So stoked to have reached the top.

Below, on the summit of Al Centro Y Adentro.

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That was our last good weather window for climbing. The weather hit hard again and closed us out, but we managed to repeat the two most classic hard routes in the area, so it was a big win for me.

For the rest of the time we hung with our friends from Argentina at the Refugio. It was sad saying goodbye, but we’ll see most of them again in a few months back in Argentina.

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And so that’s a quick recap of the Cochamo adventure.

We’re back on the road now, heading south. More updates to come.

-TREE

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Comments

  1. Awesome Tree. So good to see your climbing journals/pics.
    Miss climbing with ya.. you always had the fire..

  2. Nonituyas says:

    Simply stunning. The great mystic Rumi advises: “Let the beauty you love be what you do.” . . . and you two certainly commit yourselves to passionately living what you love! I am, as always, happy for you.

  3. Auntie Alex says:

    Gorgeous pictures! I am so glad you guys are back in contact though! I missed you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    You did it Mijo! – with a wife and a baby. As it turns out you do have the bandwidth for that. You are absolutely amazing!

  5. been waiting for the update and it was worth it!

  6. Tim Wilson says:

    Great photo’s, looks like and sounds like amazing experience! Glad weather window let you get er done. Awesome shot’s of Stevie on multi pitch, big up’s! Sol is a rock star already, team leader soon I think!

  7. Great blog guys, I have been anonymously following for about two years now. I wanted to ask about the baby backpack you are using on this trip. I remember you liked it when you first bought it, but I can’t find that post now. Do you still like it? What brand is it? We are looking for one for our 14 month old baby girl, she is outgrowing our front carrier. -Thanks

    • Hey Alex,
      Thanks for following bud. The pack we have has been great, but I think it’s designed for a smaller kid. I feel like Sol is starting to outgrow it. The next one I’m thinking about is this one…

      http://www.outdoorplay.com/Kelty-Pathfinder-3-0-Kid-Carrier

      That thing is bad ass. If you’re interested, order it at ODP and use this coupon code at checkout.

      coupon code – SPRINTER

      Should give you a 20% discount and free shipping. If you have any problems, send me an email (see contact page above)

      cheers
      TREE

  8. Guy Loften says:

    That is Amazingly beautiful. Words cant discribe my awe

  9. Paul Lyttle says:

    That is one sexy crack buddy !!

  10. Dave Adair says:

    My heart stopped a few times reading that. But I think I’m OK now! Good one.

  11. Tree,
    So happy for you guys! What a great adventure. Congratulations on your successful climbs!

    Cheers,
    John

  12. Awe Some! I could smell chalk and rock while reading this:) Congratulations!

  13. Wonderful!
    As Sol grows a bit older and you think about “education”, you’ll have a lot of people telling you what to do. So I might as well beat them all to it. I highly recommend you do relaxed home education or unschooling !
    “Let the questions be the curriculum” and read..read…read…to supplement the wonders of your travels! Math can be done all experientially and there’s a ton of cool ideas for unschooling math.

    Have FUN!!!!!
    Kathy
    PS.. Gus is now 21 and is in film school…never had a test in his life until he got to college and he’s doing fine.

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the advice. We fully plan to home school Soleil while continuing to travel the world.
      Cheers

  14. Reid Recess Hamilton says:

    Tree
    So stoked to hear you guys had a blast and made a great connection with Dan and the entire family. I to had the best climb of my life and feel so blessed to tapped into such an amazing place.
    Thanks for the photos.

    • Hey bro,
      Yeah, it was epic. Thanks again for all the prelim beta you gave us. It was super helpful. We’re over in Daniel’s home town now, El Bolson area. Looking for new climbing areas and waiting for those guys to return from Cochamo.

      Cheers amigo

  15. Super duper job, Stevie!

    🙂

  16. Way cool place. Just being there must be unable to put in words!! Once again you guys rock!! U got it all I’m super stoked by the way you guys live FREEDOM!!! and the excitement is so life giving. Add the compassion, passion and an opportunity to live it with the two most important women in your life is amazing. You are truly blessed and in the process you are spreading hope and a swath of enriched souls and being enriched all at once Carry-on
    Tree, Gonna be needing some gear, mostly hiking/camping and some wet weather wear. but, not till around April. Let me know if you can help. Thanks Bro. WILLY

  17. Dominic Sagar says:

    Wow! Those routes look amazing. Somebody up above mentioned their heart stopping. I’m right with them. Your pictures and writing are brilliant. Glad to see you are all back safe. Good to see you gracefully hand the mantle to Beckett. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do. – Dominic.

  18. All I can say is “WOW”. Epic. Great post.

  19. Sassy Marshall says:

    Love hearing of adventures and seeing wondrous photos of what is “real living”!

  20. Arlene Burns says:

    I really love this post of immersion into the a jewel of a primitive and pristine magic valley… That will stick with you forever in times of need or otherwise…
    Salut

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