Siebe Vanhee | Frey – As good as the one with the R at the end.
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Frey – As good as the one with the R at the end.

Frey – As good as the one with the R at the end.

1700 meters high, a nice lake, great refugio, perfect granite spires, good athmosphere with nice life music! Frey is an amazing granite tradclimbing area near Bariloche, Argentina. Easy to get there without a car. By bus from Bariloche you can get to the base of the closest mountains to town. From there a three hour walk trough a beautifull automn forrest brought us up to a place full of granite. Frey is close to Bariloche but when you’re there you feel far away from civilasition. Our team consisted out of Sean, Marcus and me. As soon as we arrived we met up with ‘Pela’, an Argintine ‘Changa!’, who was planning to go down because of the lack of climbers at this late climbing season. Our Changa man was happy to see us and stayed one week longer to complete our team.

It felt amazing to climb some cracks again, place gear and jam. In Frey you can do a lot of single to three pitches, but there is also a possibility to climb up to 7 pitches. It’s a perfect trad and crackclimbing school. The approaches are not long and the closest spire is ‘Aguya Frey’ at 10 minutes walk from camp. But not only the crack climbing is interesting here, the slabs are mean and really technical. Every time I go to a granite climbing area I learn again. To bad I always have to leave a nice little package of fingertips skin on the slabs.
Sean had been to Frey a couple of times and had some unfinnished buisness to do. The second day we went up to ‘El Techo de Frey’ on the granite spire Aguya Frey. El Techo de Frey is the third pitch of a four pitch climb. After a first easy pitch, a second ‘hard’ 6b slab follows up to the roof crack in the third old aidclimbing pitch. This pitch starts with an overhanging roofcrack in a dihidral. This roof goes on for only 6 meters and has lots of complicated moves. The protection is good on small cams in the crack. The first day Sean and I tried it, we coudn’t even move and had a hard time working out all the moves. Both of us never did something like this! Flat friction feet, slopy slopers and crazy compression moves make this climb incredibly complicated. The first three tries I would never think it was possible. Slowly we made progress and found both our own metode to climb this line. The roof ends with a jug and the climb continues with another tricky 6b crack on a slab.

After some days of working and learning how to climb this thing Sean could do the second ascent after Nicolas who did it last year. I got really close to send it, but a little ‘Brain Fart’ like Sean would call it, gave me some trouble. The next day we went back, this time strong and more confident about the possibility I could send it! Raaaaackckck. . . first try of the day I did it smoothly! Both super happy and excided about this line we did the second and third ascent of this line many climbers tried! I guess this line is getting some black, yellow and red collor!

Above: Sean researching the moves in El Techo.

But not only this line is amazing, Frey offered us way more beautifull and classic lines. One day we did an old aidclimb of 6 pitches on the central pillar named ‘Kopcke-Insua’ Interesting climb because not many people climb it because of the aidclimbing grade they give it in the guidebook. The crux pitch goes through a technical dihidral with old protection pitons and small gear! Great line and a great school! I love those technical ones on some scary ‘old’ gear!

                                                    
                                                Above: Me being excited about the roof!

But climbing is not everything! The mornings in the sun eating a great poridge and drinking a hot mate (Argentinian typical thee/culture) with some nice people in this great place is already worth it to come here. Our last night we ate some home made pizza’s in the refugio, played a lot of music and sang with a bunch of people. Athmosphere guaranty in those Patagonian mountains.

Back in Bariloche we went to our friends house, Hormiga (Cintia) and Maty. While we had been enjoying the granite, they suffered with wood to build a new little house next to theirs for Hormiga’s parents. We helped them a little cutting some trees to make space for the house. Below you find a picture of Hormiga spectacularly cutting a big tree from the roof of the new house. After 10 minutes of effort cutting the tree, Hormiga (professional rock climber in Argentina, known for certain proud ascents of big walls) looked at us really miserable and said: Tengo miedo! (I’m so scared!).

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