Vertical Limit

A breathtaking rappeling and climbing adventure in the area of the Atuel River Canyon. An experience in the rocks of the Grande Valley. Only for the fearless.

There are not many places in the Grande Valley area in San Rafael where rappelling and climbing may be practiced. Even if this is considered a mountain area, its fragile geological formation makes it practically impossible to be explored. For lovers of these activities who wish to observe the famous Atuel Canyon from another perspective, with its magnificent shapes carved by the water and the wind, here is an unforgettable experience to go climbing and rappeling under totally safe conditions.

First of all, we got in touch with a tourist operator dealing with this kind of alternative tourism. Fortunately for us, we met the people from “Extremo”, who are specialists in adventure travel.

Along with them, we headed for one of the few massifs in the valley, just by Road 173, approximately 37 kilometers away from San Rafael. The 40-meter-high wall presents several routes considered “technical”, with a 5-grade difficulty, some key 6b or 6c points, according to the route chosen. “If you are a climber, you must dare” challenged our guide.

  • The rocks of the Grande Valley

    The rocks of the Grande Valley

  • Atuel River Canyon

    Atuel River Canyon

  • Just by Road 173

    Just by Road 173

  • By those who only need to dare

    By those who only need to dare

  • The rappel method

    The rappel method

Climbing is a sport which does not require any previous knowledge and is suitable to be practiced by those who only need to dare and are physically fit. After being provided with all the safety instruments and listenting to the instructions given by the guide about what route to follow, we began our ascent.

At the beginning, the natural wall was well marked. It was easy to find the holes in the rock to be able to climb. As we gained height, we started to feel vertigo, but the sound of the Atuel River behind our backs made us feel more calmed. The first few meters let us appreciate the natural environment in a different way. This gave us enough joy to continue, always analyzing the route we had chosen.

The way climbing is done on this kind of walls is called “top rope”, although climbers are always secured by another guide standing at the bottom, who keeps them hanging in case they slip. As we advanced, we felt our harnesses tighter and close to the rope. The wall has good boulders, and the route chosen may be equipped with some stoppers or nuts, but all in all, this is not necessary. Climbers must only remember that the climbing technique is based on having three points of support, searching to make the greatest physical effort with the legs, so as not to tire the arms, whose muscles are smaller.

Before expected, we got to the narrow summit. Our bodies felt completely exhausted, but we made it anyway. From the top of the wall, we could see the turquoise river waters running between the rock walls, a row of willows resting on the Atuel banks and, on the other side, the famous mountain range known as “Mil Hojas” (a thousand layers). At this point, it seemed as if the Andes Mountain Range had exploded into a thousand pieces and then got back together in fractions of the same size. One of a kind show.

Silence and loneliness on the summit were quite soothing. From there, everything seemed to happen in slow motion. We remembered that reaching the top of a mountain, whatever its height, is the greatest tribute to freedom we can pay to ourselves. After a few minutes, as we were recovering our strength, we got everything ready to start our way down using the rappel method.

This technique is the simplest way to descend a vertical wall by sliding the body along a rope, using a harness, locking carabiners, quickdraws, a descender (figure of eight) and gloves.

We adopted the correct position, with open slightly bent legs, and began our descent. A few steps backwards letting the rope slide were enough to feel self-assured. Soon enough, we were on solid ground. It is important to point out that if you do not have the appropriate technical knowledge, it is best to be guided by a qualified expert in order to feel totally safe. The guides from “Extremo” will always be there for you.

In less than two hours, we had an excellent memory of climbing and rappeling opposite the canyon of this marvellous river. Undoubtedly, this is unique change of perspective is completely worthwhile. Now, we invite you to fasten your harness and dare to enjoy this experience in the particular scenery of the Grande Valley.

Autor Marcelo Sola Fotografo Marcelo Sola

DifficultyDifficulty: This kind of climbing presents a general 5-grade difficulty. Rappeling, on the other hand, has medium difficulty.
DurationDuration: 2 hours
Opening hoursOpening hours: To be arranged with the adventure travel operator.
How to get hereHow to get here: From San Rafael, travel the area of the Grande Valley along Route 173. The people from Extremo are based at kilometer marker 24.


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