Articles tagged with "climb"
I climbed Manquehue two years ago, when my back was still fragile after surgery. That time, we’d climbed from La Piramide via a route that goes most of the way to the top of Cerro Carbón. Today, with a friend who often visits Chile and loves getting out into the hills, I tried the route via Via Roja.
The route via Carbón had taken us about 4 hours in total to get to the top at a very relaxed pace. Starting from Via Roja was supposed to take less than 2 hours. I arranged to meet my friend at 11am, and I thought I would cycle to the start of the climb. I set off at about 10.30, and by 11am I was on Via Roja, a mile and a half from where we were meeting. But what I hadn’t checked was how high the end of Via Roja actually was. It’s just over 1000m above sea level, so I had a 400m ascent to do. It was a great ascent but tough going with an average gradient of 7.5%. By the time I reached the end of the road, my friend and her friends had got bored of waiting and set off.
So I set off on my own. It was an amazingly steep climb, much tougher than the route via Carbón, but also much quicker, and after an hour and a half I got to the top, not too far behind my friends.
Going down was much tougher on the loose and slippery ground. We somehow ended up a little way from the route we’d taken on the way up, on a much steeper and more precarious path. So it took pretty much exactly the same time to get down as it had to go up. The cycling was a different story. It took me about a quarter of the time to go back down Via Roja as it had to go up it, and I carried the momentum all the way home. In total it took me 5.5 hours to get from my house to the top of the mountain and back.
I got up early the next morning, and was on the way up the trail to the top at 6.30am. It was a cool morning and I knew I’d made a good decision stopping for the night instead of climbing in the hot afternoon. I made fast progress, and by 8am I was at the only difficult bit of the climb, a rocky section over a narrow ridge. It wasn’t always easy to see the best way over, and I was really glad I had gone down to San Carlos de Apoquindo last year instead of continuing in the dark. It would not have been nice trying to clamber over the rocks by torchlight.
On the other side, it was a short and easy walk to the summit. I got there before 9am and felt happy to have finally got here. It had been my target for four years.
I headed down. By 11.30 I was back at my camp, and I packed up. At 12, three friends passed by – they were climbing in the one day while I’d preferred to spend a night camping. I said hi to them and carried on down. The way to San Carlos was steep and dusty, and with only one pole it was miserable going. I kept on slipping and progress was slow. Just after I’d slipped yet again and put my hand into a thorny bush, I met another friend who was heading to Alto del Naranjo. I feigned enjoyment, and carried on down. I ran out of water before I got to San Carlos and was incredibly thirsty when I arrived. Luckily there was a tap there and I drank several litres before heading home. I drank many more when I got there.
I found a great place to camp, with no-one else around. It was really nice to be up in the Sierra de Ramón with awesome views of the city. And even though I was nearly 2000m above sea level, it was still a warm night. I watched the sunset, saw the city light up, and the stars coming out, and after that I slept well.
I’d tried to climb Provincia before with three friends, but we’d set off too late in the day and only got as far as Alto del Naranjo before lack of daylight stopped further progress. A year and a bit later, I finally got around to having another go.
But again I left too late in the day, and this time it was summer. Setting off at 1.30pm was a huge tactical error, and it was compounded soon after I left Puente Ñilhue when one of my hiking poles snapped. So my hike was extremely tiring in the heat, and more difficult than it should have been with only one pole.
But after three hours I was at Alto del Naranjo. No snow on the ground this time, and the summer days were long so I still had plenty of time to get to the top. However, I didn’t have plenty of water. I’d refilled at the last opportunity, and I’d been carrying nearly 5 litres, but it was hot going and I was using up my supplies quickly. I decided to head a bit further up than Alto del Naranjo but not to go to the summit until morning when it would be cooler.
Summer has been very late coming to Santiago in 2015, El Niño giving us a huge amount more grey cloudy weather than normal. But today was beautiful, so I went to Cerro Carbón in the evening. I thought I might go all the way to the top and see the sunset from there, but I left a bit late, and only had time to get to Mirador El Litre before it was dark. A few hill runners came down after nightfall, and I could see a light on top of Cerro Manquehue. It looked like someone was camping up there. Meanwhile, the city lights came on, and Santiago looked awesome.
I drove on to Kona and spent a couple of days there. I went snorkelling in Kealakekua Bay, which was totally stunning. I’d never done snorkelling before and I was blown away by how awesome it was to float over the coral with thousands of fish swimming really close to me. And as an added bonus, it was a great hike from Kona down to the bay. Hiking back up was also great but exhausting after the swim. And then as I got to the top it started thundering, and in the downpour I got completely and utterly soaked to the skin.
It had been totally clear when I started climbing but clouding over during the morning. By the time I got to the top it was starting to rain. I was going to go to the very highest point, but there was a sign asking people not to, so I didn’t.
I was planning to walk back down again but then it started hailing. Two tourists from New York were there, they had a car and they offered me a lift down. It was a better option than three hours walking in the hail.
It was a great hike up the mountain. But it was pretty weird to arrive at the top after a few hours in the wilderness to find all the telescopes there. It was like I was arriving for work, and I felt like I should be checking the daytime calibrations and working out the schedule for the night.
After the Carrasqueira, things were easier. The rain carried on for a while, and in a forest clearing we stopped for a little break. Trees in thick mist was really not what I had expected to be seeing at any point in my Rio trip.
As we headed down the weather got better, and by the time we were back in Barra da Tijuca, it was clear and sunny again.
I went to Rio to spend three weeks working at the Observatório do Valongo. On the first weekend I was there, a few of us from the institute went to climb Pedra da Gavea, one of the many amazing mountains in and around Rio.
It was a beautiful day when we started climbing from Barra da Tijuca. Three hours of steep hiking took us to the top of the rock, with the only difficult bit being the Carrasqueira, a steep 30m rock face which a lot of people had ropes and harnesses to go up. Our group headed up without equipment, except for one of us who preferred to wait at the bottom.
The top looked impossible to reach even from not far below but once we were past the Carrasqueira it was easy enough. And when we got there, we had stunning views over Rio and Guanabara Bay. I spent a few minutes enjoying them, then reached down to grab my camera, then stood up, and found that a cloud had descended and the view had gone. I assumed the cloud would blow past and the view would reappear, but it didn’t. And before much longer it was raining. So I got no photos of the view.
We headed down. The Carrasqueira had been challenging on the way up and it was challenging on the way down, and was now a huge bottleneck with queues of hikers descending in the rain. Climbers had set up ropes and a lot of hikers were borrowing them to get down. Those who didn’t were forming a long slow queue using a crack in the rock for handholds. I joined the queue, and edged slowly down the rock face.
I’d started 2014 with a trip up Cerro Carbón, and I did the same for 2015. I wouldn’t have minded climbing Manquehue instead or as well, but it was a hot summer’s day and these hills aren’t so much fun when it’s incredibly dry and hot. So I left the house early and was on the trail before sunrise. It was a little bit cloudy first thing, which made for a cooler start to the hike, and also created epic sunbeams over the Sierra de Ramón when the sun came up.
It was not as quiet as last year – there was someone camped at Mirador El Litre. But I still had the top to myself when I got there.
From Red Crater we headed down. If we’d have been coming this way in summer there would have been colourful lakes on the way but they were all frozen and buried under snow.
It was good weather again at the top, and we relaxed in the sun on the edge of Red Crater, which last erupted in 1926.
It had been sunny at first but then we had a complete whiteout for a bit. The sun started to come out again as we were nearing the highest point on the crossing.
It was a nice evening with much less smog that when I’d climbed Cerro Carbón a few days ago. I decided to head up the trail again, but just to Mirador El Litre, half way up the mountain, for some evening views of the city. I cycled from my house to La Piramide and realised when I got there that I’d left my bike lock at home. So I dragged the bike up the hill a little way, vaguely hid it in some undergrowth, and hoped there were no bike thieves around.
The evening views from the mirador were pretty awesome and I stayed until it was dark. Coming down the hill was scarier than I’d anticipated – my torch suddenly lit up two red eyes on the trail ahead of me, and I approached cautiously. Then, suddenly, as I got closer, there was an loud flap and the bird I’d woken up took off, almost flying into my face.
Back at the bottom, I found my bike still where I’d left it, and cycled home.
I climbed Cerro Carbón again with a group of friends. It was a cool winter’s day and the air quality was particularly horrible. At street level it was just a misty gloomy day, but from the top of Carbón we could see that there was a disgusting layer of brown all over Santiago. The top of the layer was just below the top of Cerro Carbón, and we stayed on our island in the muck for quite a while, not wanting to go back down into the filthy air below.