Pizza, Chocolate y Cerveza

John and Anne Arran have completed a major new big wall ascent in Venezuela, and indoing so have raised the ethical standards of bigwall free climbing byplacing no bolts or pegs on the route, not even on belays. John and Anne teamed up with Venezuelan climber Alfredo Rangel to makethe first ascent of the East Face of Acopan, a large tepui (table-toppedrocky peak) deep in the heart of Venezuela`s Gran Sabana region. The 600m tower, which overhangs by some 50m in total, had previously beenattempted by strong American and Italian teams, and took the lightweightAnglo-Venezuelan trio six days of continuously hard climbing and hauling tocomplete. Its steepness meant that retreat would have been almost impossibleafter the first two days. The 21-pitch climb (“Pizza, chocolate y cerveza”)took a direct line up thecentral tower of the tepui, and involved a greatdeal of E5 and E6 climbing in addition to its J3 (hard vegetation-pulling)equivalent. The entire climb was completed on-sight and with no falls. The 3-person team, supported by The North Face, Petzl and Beal, was notablysmall and quick for a first ascent of a tepui big wall, as most such routeshave required much larger teams and many more days on the wall. John wasparticularly delighted with the no-falls, hammerless style of their ascent. “We didn`t set out to make any ethical statements, but having climbed theroute without pegs or bolts it feels really good not to have scarred it inany way. “The tepuis are amazing, unspoiled places, and I think it`s important topreserve this as much as possible.”