Las Agujas

Las Agujas are a pair of narrow limestone spires located right in the heart of El Potrero Chico. The tallest one is perhaps 180 to 200ft tall at most and so doesn’t quite qualify as an official summit. However, the easiest route up is still 3 pitches of 5.9 and stands out enough from El Toro that I think it’s fair to call it separate summit. There are numerous lines to the top and it’s a popular objective among all the climbers. Elise and I had planned to team up to climb them and were figuring out which route would work best. I was feeling sore from a big day of climbing prior so leaned towards the 5.9 route known as Crack Test Dummies. Like all the other routes, it’s fully bolted. A luxury for some cool spires!

Elise was down so we set out from the hostel and walked the 40ish minutes to the base of the climb. Thanks to Mountain Project, identifying the start was quite easy. The second pitch is the crux and Elise offered that one to me, so she set up for the first lead of the day. Despite how busy the area normally is, we had the whole route to ourselves, so took our time getting roped up and then Elise start climbing up the 5.7 pitch.

Reaching the short trail to Las Agujas
Looking at the spires head on
Looking up at the base of the spire

The route ran for perhaps 35m before she reached a bolted anchor and belayed me up. I seconded up through a large gully type feature with a large chockstone and then lots of stemming and good jug holds to the anchor.

Elise climbing up p1

We swapped leads and I head up the quite vertical looking pitch 2. The moves involved a few fun hand jams and lots of chimneying and stemming to get through the steepest sections. There were ample rests, but I had to pause quite frequently to sort out the next set of moves before continuing on. Each time I’d climb higher something else would present itself though and I never found it overly strenuous climbing. Just below what turned out to be the anchor, I got a bit confused about the route and ended up clipping a bolt and turning climber’s right out on to 5.7ish face climbing. I ran it out to just below the old iron pins on the last pitch and then found I could straddle a small ledge to the proper anchors. It turns out I should have climbed straight up from the first bolt through some off-width but at the time it looked like no anchor was above.

Here I am starting the lead of p2
Part way up the chimney
Looking down p2

With that, Elise seconded up and then we had to figure out the 3rd pitch. There were two options: first was a lead up 5.7ish terrain but with only one bolt low down. The second was a mega exposed traverse out onto the south face but with much better bolting. It was Elise’s lead so she picked the south face and lead her way up. There was one tricky hand jam mid way up and then the difficulties ended as she topped out on the summit.

P3 option 1
P3 option 2 and the one Elise lead up

I lowered her off and then seconded up and found the climbing a bit harder than 5.7. Although, that might just be because I was tired. After a quick foray on the summit, Elise lowered me off and then we did one rappel down to the notch between the two spires. From there, one more 35m rappel got us to the bottom. We had an easy hike back to the hostel from there.

Looking down at the exposed pitch 3
Just a short climb to the top. Another climb coming up a different pitch on the spire is visible too
Looking down from the summit
The lower spire with another climber on it
Elise lowering me off
Rappelling from the top of p2
At the notch and the start of our last rappel
Elise on the last rappel
An unexpected tunnel appeared!

Personally, I thought this climb was full value, with some amazing positioning on a solid limestone. Others have reported exceptionally loose rock, but I didn’t find that to be the case. There’s certainly blocks to avoid but I never had concerns about sending rocks down. The top out is amazing and I highly highly recommend making a climb up the spires if you can!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *