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Sean Villanueva Climbs More New Routes in Patagonia

He continues to find long gear-only lines up splitter crack systems

Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll has been in Patagonia for over 15 months, with no plans to return to Europe. He moved there at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and has been one of only a few climbers in the region over the area’s recent summer season. Already this year, he’s made the first ascent of the mega Moonwalk Traverse, solo, across Fitz Roy massif, and the first ascent of El Chaltenense, a 500-metre 5.12 offwidth up Fitz Roy’s south face with Jon Griffin.

He’s now added two new 5.12 climbs up the north face of El Mocho near Cerro Torre: Chalten Sin Clecas, which means Chalten without Tick-marks, with Mecha Rocamora; and Chalten sin Chapas, which means Chalten Without Bolts, with Matías Korten.

Chalten Sin Clecas is described by Villanueva as: “excellent climbing with a little of everything, mossy wet cracks, blind moves behind aretes, and hand jam roof crack with feet cutting loose, followed by a feet-first move! The whole shebang!” Over the past few months, climbers have been leaving a lot of highly visible tick-marks on boulders in the area, which most climbers don’t agree with.

About the bolting, Villanueva told Planet Mountain: “I feel like sometimes bolts appear in places where they are completely unnecessary, because there are many natural alternatives. I feel like placing a bolt is making a scar on the rock, not too unlike chipping holds, and it is not something that should be taken lightly just because it is “convenient” and fast to place with a drill. 

There is something beautiful about those climbing areas in, for example, Ireland and the UK, where there are no bolts. Unfortunately a lot of people have never experienced that, and they don’t have this vision.”