Arrans Free-Climb Wild Venezuelan Wall


The line of Amurita on the 2,000-foot south face of Amurí Tepui. Courtesy of John Arran.

Anne Arran probes steep ground on Amurita (E7 6b). All 10 of the route’s pitches were 5.11+ or harder. Courtesy of John Arran.

The British couple John and Anne Arran, veterans of several big new routes on Venezuela’s remote sandstone walls, have completed their “most adventurous big-wall expedition yet”: the all-free first ascent of Amurí Tepui, alongside a 2,000-foot waterfall that is so isolated it has no known name. Over a week of effort, the two completed a 10-pitch route called Amurita (E7 6b) with sustained 5.12 climbing. 

The approach to the sandstone plateau’s south face required four days of bushwhacking from the nearest Indian community. The two climbed capsule-style, with two portaledge camps en route. John Arran said each of the long pitches was E5 or E6 (solid 5.12), except for two 5.11+ pitches and “a particularly harrowing 50-meter adventure” that he considered E7 (run-out 5.12+). They placed only three bolts, all at belays. Overhanging patches of jungle vegetation, loose rock, and scorpions added to the adventure. “Being so far from anywhere, so high up, and so run-out trying to find a way up necky, technical pitches were some of the best moments I’ve ever had as a climber,” Arran said. 

John Arran returns to the couple’s portaledge camp 1,000 feet above the ground via a 100-foot Tyrolean traverse they rigged to access the wall’s upper pitches after free-climbing a long, loose traverse pitch. Courtesy of John Arran.

The unnamed 2,000-foot waterfall to the right of the Arrans’ route. John Arran said the wall behind this waterfall could yield the hardest and most overhanging big-wall free climbs on Earth. Courtesy of John Arran.

The two climbed onsight. Arran explained that, “The only failure was an attempt at a direct final pitch, which I finally admitted was too hard for me after nearly two hours of trying. I descended to the belay, pulled the ropes, and climbed an easier but less attractive line instead.” 

The Arrans had eyed a steeper line directly behind the waterfall, which lands hundreds of feet out from the base of the cliff, but decided they didn’t have time to attempt such a hard route. This wall, John Arran said, “certainly has potential for the hardest and most overhanging big-wall free climbs on Earth.” 

Dates of Ascent: September 13-19, 2008 

Sources: John Arran, Thefreeclimber.com, Planetmountain.com

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