A year and a half after having reached the Scottish shoreline, shaken by 14 days of storm at sea, the CAB-Rock Climbing Team (RCT) embarks on a new big wall adventure on Sunday February 5.
For this new project, they chose very different surroundings. While they reached the wall by boat at their previous destination, this new expedition will lead them to explore the jungle of Central America on their way to the mysterious tepuis in Venezuela. The team members are Sean Villanueva, Nicolas Favresse, Stéphane Hanssens and Jean-Louis Wertz. All have solid big wall experience.
We have interviewed the first two about their impressions before travelling into the unknown.
Belclimb: You are used to approaches in hostile surroundings. This time, it will be the jungle. What inspires you and are you prepared enough?
Sean: What has inspired us in Greenland was the “black hole” pitch, a dirty, wet and mossy chimney. We have heard that in Venezuela entire walls exist in this style; 600m of overhanging jungle, wet, muddy, foamy. It will be a fight with vegetation, snakes, crocodiles and scorpions. The jungle will be very different from the extreme conditions in Patagonia, the altitude in the Karakoram and the wide open spaces of the arctic (Baffin and Greenland).
Your objective is to open several routes on the Venezuelan tepuis. Do you have to go that far to find unexplored rock faces?
Nicolas: We have heard that there is a 600m high wall, extremely overhanging, on a tepui called Amuri. It’s probably one of the most overhanging walls of this size in the world. The upper part of the wall is still unexplored. The rock is a kind of quarzite, sandstone, but very solid. According to our sources, the quality of the rock is exceptional and lends itself particularly well to the adventurous climbing style we love. It will undoubtedly be very difficult to see this challenge through to a successful end.
Sean: It’s worth noting that we won’t be alone in this corner of the world. By coincidence, another team has chosen the same objective during the same period! Siebe Vanhee is part of that team!!! He’ll be there with an American and two English team members. They are good friends of ours, so this will probably spice up our - musical - jamming sessions. They will be there 10 days ahead of us… A lucky coincidence that two expeditions are in this region at the same time.
There are hundreds of tepuis. Will you focus on one or try several tepuis? Where are they located?
Nicolas: Our first goal is to freeclimb the overhanging face on the Amuri tepui. Maybe we’ll stay there for the entire expedition. It will depend on what we’ll find there, if we are motivated by several lines on the wall, or if we want to climb a very hard line that needs to be worked. Or maybe we’ll return with our tail between our legs. To reach the overhanging face of Amuri, we’ll board a small Cesna from Ciudad Bolivar, which will bring us to the Amazonian Village of Yunek. From there, 4 days of finding our way through the jungle amongst wild animals should get us there.
You’ll be four on the wall. Is climbing in two pairs an advantage?
Sean: What’s important is not the number of people, but the spirit and the energy of the team. With four, we can climb in two pairs, or if someone gets bitten by a snake, we can climb in a team of 3.
The CAB-Rock Climbing Team welcomes a newcomer, photographer Jean-Louis Wertz. A good addition to the team?
Sean: This little dwarf with a Liège accent is frightfully ugly and his IQ is not very high. He’ll fit right in. You might not be able to tell, looking at him, but he’s a very talented climber. Even when he doesn’t climb for long periods of time, he still has good sensations. He’s very light on the holds and has good instincts, very important in adventurous terrain. And besides being a good climber, he’s also a good photographer, hopefully, we’ll return with some beautiful pictures...
You’ll be cut off from the world again. How will you communicate with the outside world?
Sean: We’ll be completely disconnected, so keep an eye on facebook and our website. We took the satellite phone from CAB, so we hope to send a message every once and a while. It’s a pity we won’t be able to send pictures…
Le site www.xpedition.be
Xpedition Facebook page