Top British climber Steve McClure has recently returned from the 2012 Petzl RocTrip. This year they went to South America. Lucky UKC reader Tom Ireson won an all expenses paid trip (see UKC Report) and now we get more info on the trip from McClure himself.
Jack: What is the Petzl RocTrip? And why should anyone be interested in it?
Steve: This year is the 10th Anniversary of the Petzl Rock trip! The Rock Trip began back in 2002 in France. The plan is always the same, to get a bunch of climbers together to climb, have fun, and most importantly have a massive party. But the philosophy is always the same, with the emphasis on climbing as opposed to competitions, and putting something back into the community. It's a breath of fresh air when many companies look to competition results when deciding who may be worthy of a free bit of kit. The trips have evolved to have a real festival feel with loads going on. There is something for everyone; talks, films, good food, often new routes, a big party, and if you are inclined, the chance to hang out with bumbly punters like myself.
Jack: And what good does it do for the local climbing community, or the wider community?
Steve: Right from the start it was all about helping the community; raising money, conserving the area or putting it on the map. One of the first ones was in The Gunks, we raised a stack for the access fund and spent a few days clearing rubbish, in The Red River over $12000 was raised to help buy some of the land, and in China an extremely poor local community will be helped by visiting climbers.
Certain characters have suggested that Petzl damaged the environment in their quest to 'create' a climbing area, but these opinions are based on what they assume, they need to come to a trip before making statements like that. Then they will see the minimal levels of impact, and how considered the organisers are. If an area would be negatively effected the event would not go ahead. The organisers are true mountain people with true values. For this trip in particular there was huge planning regarding impact. There won't be any traces of this trip other than more recorded routes. True – that may bring in more visiting climbers, but the impact of this will be negligible in a vast area that can easily cope and is shared amongst outdoor people of all interests.
Jack: Where was it held this year?
Steve: This was a big trip! The event was centred around the area known as the Piedra Parada in the Chubut region of Argentina, maybe 2000 km south west of Buenos Aires, well in land and basically in the middle of absolutely no where! From the east coast where I landed it took 12 hours by bus, passing through endless nothing as day faded into star studded blackness unlike any I've seen before.
But waking up I could see I'd arrived into somewhere pretty special! An area of true wilderness; a cross between the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, but with greenery and plant life sprouting from the wide river making it serenely beautiful.
Jack: And what is the climbing like there?
Steve: Most of the climbing is in the Butrera Canyon that snakes its way northwards from the camground for around 5 km, with huge walls and pinnacles towering hundreds of meters into the crystal clear blue sky. There are a lot of routes, and scope for a hell of a lot more! In my few days climbing I barely scratched the surface. There is every style imaginable: short bouldery sport to long wandery multi pitch trad adventures. And the actual climbing is incredibly varied with pocket routes straight out of The Frankenjura to cracks from Indian Creek! I don't think I've ever seen such variation in one place.
SLIDESHOW: Petzl RocTrip 2012