Los Naranjos

Jake and Leah flew in yesterday evening, so now there’s a full team of 4. A sunny morning saw Tash trying out the pool… before breakfast on the back terrace, which was interrupted by a shout of “there’s a whale!” from Jake. Sure enough, we were being treated to a swim-past by a couple of finned humps (maybe orcas? looked too big to be dolphins anyway). They’re completely invisible in the shot below…Inland, the weather wasn’t quite so fine, with cloud clinging to much of the hillside. We made the short drive to Arico and then on to one of the satellite sectors: Los Naranjos. You park opposite and slightly above the crag, which is clearly visible, then follow a cairned path along an irrigation channelbefore dropping down into a ravine and climbing up the other side to the crag, immediately next to another water channel.The rock is Ignimbrite or welded tuff – glued together bits of the stuff that gets spewed out of volcanoes, and the crag is very reminiscent of Smith Rock, Oregon. On a macro scale it features aesthetic corners, cracks and aretes, which closer up are riddled with pockets and crimps. Only 30 routes, but there are some belting lines.We started off with the stunning Vigilame Bien, 6a, which takes the prominent arete at the right of the crag via a bouldery first move followed by fun jamming and pocket jug-hauling. Here’s me catching about the only sunshine we saw on the crag (east facing and by the time the drizzly clouds had cleared we were in the shade anyway – at 900m it was certainly belay jacket weather)

…. and here’s Leah making smooth work of the upper section.Perhaps an even stronger line, La Fisura Guapis, 6a+, takes a fine dog-leg cracked corner up very steep territory – it’d make a stiff E2/3 if you ignored the bolts! Here’s a visiting Italian climber making full use of them!Jake got his trip off to a great start with the hanging arete of Fareman, 7b and Cocacolo, 7c, probably the route of the crag.I also managed to open my account in the 7s with El Rincon de la Tortura, 7a. No photos (thanks kids!) but probably recorded for posterity in permanent jamming scars after a terrifying and brutal start up an overhanging groove, with the second bolt more than twice as high as the first. Things mellow a bit after that with long moves between good pockets up a narrow pillar. Fab!Beta note – take care pulling the rope above the irrigation channel if you don’t want 80m of soggy nylon on your hands!It’s intense climbing and we were all a bit knackered and chilly, so we decided to catch the last of the rays on the beach – two-swim Tash couldn’t resist another dip (much warmer than the pool apparently).