I've just returned to the good ol' USA from a wild and overhanging bigwall adventure in the Venezuelan jungle. It was a crazy trip full of machetes, hunger, and whippers. As I write this, I am about 3 Thin Mints away from killing a box of girl scout cookies. God Bless America.
Kids With Guns - Mason Earle
The team, consisting of George Ullrich, Siebe Vanhee, Sam Farnsworth, and I flew into the remote indigenous village of Yunek on the 30th of January. With the help of 5 porters and a guide, we made the 3 day journey into the unknown. Our objective was the insanely steep Amuri Tepui- the main wall of which remained unclimbed. Armed with 28 days worth of food, and full big wall kit, we picked a line up the center of the steepest part of the wall. The King Line.
After four days of climbing, we commited to the wall. Over the next 12 days, we lived on the wall in our luxurious portaledge camp, while climbing higher and higher--slowly deciphering the immaculate overhanging stone. Every pitch we climbed brought us closer to the waterfall pouring off the top. The rock was incredible, but without a single vertical crack system. This made our progress quite slow, so after a week on the wall we had to drop our free climbing goals. In between short bits of hard aid climbing, we were awarded with unbelievable, overhanging pitches--most of which were easier than 5.12. With only a pack of cookies and 1 liter of water to our names, we topped out in the dying light of the 18th of February. Truly an epic adventure, with 3 of the finest gentlemen I have had the pleasure of climbing with.
After the crippling 3 day hike out, we were back in Yunek. We were all quite hungry at this point (all of us having lost weight), so our ears perked up when our local Indian guide offered us some bananas for sale. Our hopes went quickly down the drain as we remembered that we had no cash left.
"No tengo dinero," I told him. He pondered my response for a moment, and then looked down at my shoes.
"Me gusta tu zapatos," he said, pointing at my FiveTen Insights.
"Uuhh," was all I could say. My Insights had proven to be invaluable weapons for hiking across the savannah and through the dark jungle--I was looking forward having them as my go-to approach shoe for the upcoming Yosemite season, but with my stomach grumbling I was left with no choice. At least they would be staying in a nice place. I reluctantly handed him the shoes.
"Muy bien," I said. "Cuantos Bananas?"
"Un poco," he replied. He went back to his hut and returned with 8 bananas. They were the best damn bananas I've had.
Kids With Guns: 5.13a, A3, 21 Pitches, took us a total of 15 climbing days to complete. We placed 6 bolts; four were for belays, and two as protection bolts. The route will almost certainly go free. We are not sure of the height of the wall, but it is in the neighborhood of 450m-500m. Our best estimate is that the wall overhangs more than 300 feet, making our route one of the steepest in the world.