Steep New Big Wall Route on Tepui


3/8/12 - An international team of climbers has opened a new big wall route on the fabled Amuri Tepui in Venezuela, one of the steepest big walls on the planet. The climbers—Mason Earle (USA), George Ullrich (UK), Siebe Vanhee (Belgium), and Sam Farnsworth (UK)—named the 21-pitch route Kids With Guns, and graded it at 5.13a A3, E6 6c.

“We were happy to have established a new line on the steepest wall any of us have ever seen, in such good company and in a unique beautiful part of the world,” Ullrich wrote in his blog.

The climbers set out from Caracas on January 25, after hearing a tip from big-wall master John Arran about the steep tepui, which has only been climbed by two other teams. After flying into a remote village, the climbers hiked and hacked their way through the jungle for 13 miles and three days before reaching the wall.

Cascading down the center of Amuri Tepui’s main amphitheater is Salto Tuyuren, a waterfall that arches from wall, landing 300 feet from the base. The group decided to climb up the very center of the wall, alongside and behind the waterfall, which has the steepest rock. Ullrich estimated that the 500-meter wall overhangs by about 100 meters.

The team set out to free climb the entire route, and managed it for the first five days, with a 5.13a traverse on the hardest pitch. After almost no progress for the next three days, however, the team had to change their plans. “The even steeper rock looming overheadand limited food and water forced us to set aside our free climbing goals, so we could focus all our energy on getting to the top,” Earle said.

The climbers sent two to three pitches on aid every day for the next seven days before reaching the top. They placed only six bolts. “With our last pack of cookies, and only a few liters of water to our names, we topped out in the dying light of the 18th of February,” Earle said. “We didn’t spend too long on the top, because we were being dive-bombed by a pterodactyl (it may have just been a massive bat). The next day we rapped the route, concluding our 12th day on the wall.”

“The route will almost certainly go free,” Earle said about Kids With Guns.

Read the full account and see photos of the route on Ullrich's blog.

Date of ascent: February 2012