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Encourage respectful climbs in a major site: Piedra Parada

In the heart of the Patagonian desert, in the Province of Chubut (Argentina), Piedra Parada, the "stone", rises like a monolith. Behind her, La Buitreta Canyon, 5 km long, high cliffs nearly 200 feet high, hosted the Petzl Roc Trip in November 2012.The development of a climbing area that respects the environment and the history of this exceptional site deserved to have the Petzl Foundation involved.


Rock formations made by a volcano that has been extinct for thousands of years, Piedra Parada and La Buitrera Canyon have sustained a highly diverse flora and fauna. More than 40 rock art, camp, and burial sites have been identified in this part of the Chubut Valley. The archeological site at the entrance to the canyon contains the oldest human dwellings in the region (more than 5,000 years old). Today, this site is under the protection of a designated Natural Area.

Protecting the environment and archeology: the Petzl Foundation commitment

Working directly with the government of the Chubut Province, the Petzl Foundation contributed to guaranteeing access to climbing, while protecting the environment. This approach employed led to a successful outcome: access to the climbing area is authorized for climbers throughout the entire La Buitrera Canyon, with the exception of the area surrounding the archeological site, according to the agreement established between the archeologists and climbers.Thanks to the Petzl Foundation route setters, rangers and archeologists engaged in a very productive dialogue that resulted in a compromise: removing all bolts on certain routes in the Mickey Mouse area, but authorization to climb throughout the rest of the La Buitrera Canyon…

G_VALLOT_desequipementThe Petzl Foundation also offered to help protect the archeological site. The rock shelter, located outside the river's flood zone, served as a dwelling for the area's first inhabitants some five to ten thousand years ago. Although important discoveries have been made at the digs, it was not protected, most notably from animals that use it to take shelter from the rain. The Foundation has been involved in the protection and distribution of information on the digs.

On the other hand, some climbing routes were too close to the archaeological site, and the footsteps of climbers could have compromised future research. In agreement with the archaeologists, these routes were taken down in March 2012 and will no longer be climbed. These agreements thus defined a climbable zone. This way it was possible to keep the first historical routes, like Mickey Mouse, left of the cave's entrance. Win-win negotiations!

In order to better welcome climbers to the area, the Petzl Foundation contributed to establishing a permanent, environmentally respectful campground close to the canyon, by installing ecologically friendly outhouses. Information on the history, the archeological discoveries, and the local environment will be posted at the campground, with recommendations of how to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The climbing topo, published for the Petzl RocTrip, also contains information on the site, on its history and on how to preserve it.


Stéphane Lozac’hmeur, Project Manager
Pics : G. Vallot - S. Lozac’hmeur