The Refugio and the Frey towers. Torre Principal i...
Impeccable description compliments of user "Sirius":
Granite spires in an uncomparable setting, free camping, ridiculously friendly locals, beautiful cracks, and an abundance of classic, airy, challenging lines: this is Frey.
Nothing on the 4-hour approach to Frey prepares you for what you find after pulling over the last rise to Laguna Tomcek for the first time: an emerald tarn stretches to the end of a bowled-out cirque. White and black granite spires reflect on its surface. As you lift your gaze your hands begin to sweat: they're everywhere, needles in every shape and size, riddling the sides and rims of the cirque. It's a surreal landscape: The Fool, The Monk, The Grandfather, The Lunar Rocket, The Old Woman, The Splinter, The Three Marias - each spire has its own character. Condors weave spirals in the deep blue. You've made it to climber's heaven.
Frey, as a climbing area, is divided into two cirques that share a col. Picture two teacups that have been fused together on one side. Most people camp in the northern cirque, alongside Laguna Tomcek. Plenty of water - some people were using purification but we were fine without. To minimize impact, campers must use the toilets at the refugio, and must NOT make campfires.
The refugio, from which Frey takes its name, charges about 20 pesos/night for a bed (2004). You can use the kitchen or just sit around, play cards, and get warm even if you're not a guest. Meals, candy, and beer are sold here. Access to the spires from the camping area can be anywhere from 5 min. to 3 hrs. The furthest towers, those that line the rim of the cirques (Torre Principal, Campanille Esloveno), involve somewhat strenuous hoofing up scree and snow fields. The climbs are invariably worth the effort.
The climbing itself is excellent and often outrageously excellent. Nearly every climb ends on an ultra-exposed summit with views of the Patagonian Andes stretching away down the planet. Few of the summits we stood on could have held more than two or three people at a time. Some of the ratings in the local guidebook felt a bit sandbagged - something akin to the Joshua Tree style of sandbagging. Sandbags that can be appreciated.
Most routes are stellar crack adventures, though face climbing always comes into play. There are a limited number of sport routes. Very few superfluous bolts have been put up, making for the occasional obligatory runout.
Five star climbs that we had a chance to climb include Lost Fingers, Imagínate, Clemenzo, El Diedro, Sifuentes-Webber, and Baby Boom. Nothing special for the rack: whatever gets you by when you climb trad will work here. We brought doubles in nuts and cams up to 3.5". Some pitches are long (40, 50 meters) and two ropes are a must for many descents. Doubles work great. !Viva Argentina, mierda!
Easy to pick up a photocopied guide at the Club Andino in Bariloche - around 14 pesos ($4 u.s., 2004). There is also an ever-expanding three-ringed binder in the refugio that contains annotated topos, drawings, comics, spray, etc etc etc.
Catch the Villa Catedral colectivo downtown. Costs about .35 cents (2004), u.s. A pretty spin around the E end of the lake will get you to the last stop, a big parking lot in Villa Catedral.
From here, walk S across the lot toward a wooden sign that reads "Club Andino Bariloche/Refugio Emilio Frey". Hop on this trail and 4 hrs. later (that was our time with a big rack and 2 wks food) you'll be dropping your pack at the refugio. A mellow hike through a burn area and up a forested ravine. Little water is available for the first two hours. Beware tabanos in season.
Browse More Classics in Frey
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Frey:
Featured Route For Frey
: South America
: ... : Torre Principal
The original summit route ascended, finally, in 1943 after Pablo Fisher and Gustavo Kammerer overcame the final 40-foot slab guarding the summit. They initially spent an hour-and-a-half trying to throw an iron hook over the top, but eventually resorted to drilling seven one-inch metal rods- the holes of which are still visible as you climb past and clip the modern bolts protecting the steep, thin face.Beautiful, steep granite, with nice crack and face-climbing and a fantastic summit! The route h...[more] Browse More Classics in International
Sign at beginning of trail to Frey near Cerro Cate...
Refugio Frey plaque
Las Torres y Las Estrellas
|By Rob Dillon|
From: '81 Sunrader
Apr 14, 2008
Nice description, Sirius. It's all true!
Regarding the approach: Any benefit gained from taking the ski lift is negated by the necessity of wobbling down through a lengthy boulder field to the Laguna Tomcek. Did this once and that was enough.
Sep 24, 2008
some of the finest alpine granite cragging on earth! --el gringo amarillo
From: Denver, CO
Jan 31, 2011
Slated to do some climbing down there the third week in March. Think the weather will still be ok? Also, can I get by with a 70m or should I schlep the doubles?
|By Ryan Huetter|
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Feb 28, 2011
Single 60 works for most all raps. There is only one route I can think of where a 70 was really nice, but not mandatory.
Jan 19, 2012
Me and my climbing partner are currently hanging out in Buenos Aires and planning where to head for climbing..
Hey just wondering if any of you guys have any knowledge of ASH conditions and climbing in Bariloche and Cochamo - in regards to the ASH from the volcano?
Many years ago there was an volcano eruption in New Zealand, the sulphur in the ash destroyed both the hardware and software as it was quite corrosive - breathing it wasn´t so good either..
We were hoping climb up at Cerro Catedral Frey for a few months climbing the spires,
Just wondering if you know about Baraloche/Frey/Cochamo and the ASH suitation - ..Thanks for any information
|By Rich Brereton|
From: Somerville, MA
Jan 27, 2012
You should have no problems with ash if you do head up to Frey. I just got back to the States after two weeks in Bariloche. Stayed up at Frey for 10 days. Some days were completely ash-free, some days it looked like Los Angeles on a smoggy day. The ash did not affect the climbing at all, however. There was no buildup on holds whatsoever. As far as I know the ash from this volcano is not corrosive, and not thick enough in the Bariloche region to cause any respiratory problems.
Cochamo should be pretty much ash-free. A friend was there in December and said there was no problem.
Dec 2, 2012
Any need for crampons/ice axe for approaches in late dec. and january?
|By T Rundle|
Jan 18, 2013
Easily some of the best crack climbing. Great refugio if only to escape the wind for a spell.