The Granite Walls of Cochamó: A Climber’s Paradise
With ascents of up to 1,000 meters, access to the eastern edges of the Los Lagos region is quite difficult.
COCHAMÓ — The main visitors to this rugged region are foreign climbers. In 2011, the region had 3,000 visitors – twice as many as the year before. Often compared to Yosemite National Park in the United States, with its biodiversity, thousand year-old forests, and the splendor of its granite cliffs, the valley of Cochamó has become an international destination for hardcore hikers and climbers.
Located in the mountain range of the Province of Llanquihue, in the Region Los Lagos, the fame of Cochamó as paradise for climbers comes from word of mouth alone. Climbers from Austria, Germany, France, and the United States arrive at the Tepual aiport, in Puerto Montt, where they begin their trip to the walls.
According to the regional director of Sernatur de Los Lagos, Fernando Ortúzar, 6,000 people arrived to scale the massive peaks during the last summer season, doubling the visits of the previous year.
“Climbing has made this place famous,” Ortúzar says. ”Every year there are more and more people coming, and we are improving the infrastructure, camping areas, footpaths and the bridges to make it an even safer trip for visitors.”
Access to the climbing area is not easy. In order to arrive, visitors must travel two hours by bus (between Puerto Montt and Cochamó) and then walk another four hours until reaching the area in the heart of the valley. At this point, climbers can continue into the mountain range until the base of the granite walls, towering over a thousand meters high.
In the passage of Cóndores, travelers cross centuries-old forests, lakes, and valleys with beautiful rivers, which are considered some of the most important water reserves in Chile. Paths along the tributary rivers include trekking routes to the valley of Arcoíris, the de la Paloma valley, or to the stunning panoramic views of the “Amphitheater sector”.
According to Rodrigo Condeza, the operator of Secret Patagonia, visitors really appreciate being totally disconnected. “Here there is no cell phone signal or Internet, only satellite telephones for emergencies,” he says. “People arrive super pumped up, but nature quickly surrounds and relaxes them. The tranquility is complete.”