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Category Archives: Southern Patagonia

First Cumbre in Patagonia!

Espera.

Waiting.

Guillaumet in center of photo

I just hoped to climb some granite splitters in this dreamland.

I am not the only one with this wish.

….and this is how it is now.

Waiting!!!

Clay Kennedy and I packed for our second session in the mountains.  A”window” had finally come.

Window has become a joke around these parts….8-20 hours of medium-okay pressure with cold temps and sometimes climbable winds (considering your aspect and tolerance!)

following near top of the Amy Coullior

Waiting in the notch, hiding from the winds

Guillaumet via any route sans congo-line became the objective.  HA!  A snow or ice route was the best option.
Rock climbing?  Not gonna happen for awhile!

We left ourselves open to the Amy or the Guillo, and decided a little later start would be just fine…minimize the waiting at the base or on route.

Luckily, snow conditions stayed great for our later than sunrise start and our plan worked perfectly.

With snow fresh we followed a mild set of boot packed tracks up Paso Guillaumet from our camp at Piedra Negra.  The Amy Coullior was free and clear of people.  Crazy…it wasn´t THAT late!

The bergshrund was a 3 foot step up, maybe 2 feet wide.
No problem!
We continued up the snow a little further up, until Clay reached a set of slings and a piton on the right, here we pulled out the rope and simul-climbed to the lip.
The snow ramp leading up to the notch was in dreamy alpine conditions, “one hitter, quitters!” as Clay called it.  A boulder problem exit over iced in blocks mantled us up onto the ridge.
From there, the wind was ever present.  Climbing on the east side was calm and warm.  Climbing on the west side was screaming barfy nuking winds.

From the notch, the route joins another route via mixed rock, snow and ice climbing on 5.9 or easier terrain.
Still no sign of people.
The cracks were snowy and climbing in mountain boots makes me feel like I have two left feet.  Clumsy and insecure.

I led a pitch to a false summit, first with crampons on, but because it is still a fairly unfamiliar style, I finally took them off and just jammed the snowy crack with my boots.
Thankfully, my belay was protected from the wind.  When Clay arrived, I headed off again, down climbing into another notch.
Here we ran into the first signs of life, a party of 5 from Ecuador and many other voices above and below.

Cumbre, Fitz Roy in the background!

I glanced down the notch to the east, 2 parties of 2 were rappelling.
Around the corner the party of 5 was crawling, fully spread out.

Another party of three was just beginning their descent as well.  Rainbow, Ann, and Jared from the states.  They had summited and cheering us on as we continued our ascent!  Clay, tired of waiting, blasted through the sketchy jumaring antics of the Ecuadorian party (one jumar, not tied into the end of the rope, nothing else attaching to the rope!!!!! YIKES!)

Clay skillfully weaved through the party, catching the leader at the base of the snow slope that leads to the summit.  These last two pitches faced west.  It was quite brutal.  I climbed the snow filled 5.8 layback crack in my mittens.
Upon meeting up with Clay, I passed and headed up the 40 degree snow slope (seems steeper).
We simul-climbed to the top!
Cumbre to ourselves!!!!!!!  Did a little boogie, soaked in the view of Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, some of the ice cap beyond it all!

A wonderful adventure, amazing views, and just happy to have realized a dream!

Climbing in Patagonia, what a DREAM!!!!!!

Pata-pnemonia

Fitz Roy in early morning from Niponino camp. 
Sunny.  Warm.  Breezy.

Chalten, Argentina.

Still coughing, been a week.  It is not awful but it is not desirable.

Jon Schaffer, Clay Kennedy and I hiked up to Niponino Thursday amidst hanging clouds and snow.  The mountains looked wintery–and they were.  We made pretty good time on the hike with our more than 40 pound packs, dodging the obscene amount of trekkers and only a minor route finding snafu or two along the way (5 and 1/2 hours).

The homestretch across the last rock strewn glacier, I took a digger in a slushy pot hole.  Minor wetness that dropped me onto my knees.  Five minutes later I took another digger, this one almost thigh deep.  Soaking.  I hurried over the last few boulders and plopped down at a sandy bench to change my socks and into my boots.  The boys scouted for a prime campsite.

We found a place to nestle the tent between to boulders and the three of us packed in.  It was warm enough, the winds subsided and the peaks finally revealed themselves.  Cerro Torre staring at us–caked in snow and ice.  Full winter conditions.  El Mocho was our plan, Todo y Nada was the route.  Sounded so good in theory.   Upon approaching the following morning the rock sandwiching the steep snow gully was a blanket of white.  The top of the gully was teased with spindrift.  The 300 feet or so of rounded granite was dripping with ice and water.  Dampening my soul.  We needed to surmount this ‘easy when dry’ obstacle to gain access to the gully.  My eyes widened as I looked up 1000 feet.  My knowledge about climbing drifted into the thin blue air.  Clay and I both hesitated.  Jon remained cool and composed as we discussed ‘bailing.’
Which we did.
The winter conditions had me doubting that I should even be in Patagonia.  I don’t want to be guided up El Mocho, or any other route.  My fears before coming here seem to be true.  Last season and the season prior were a little friendlier, warmer, and drier.
Perhaps this is not my place.  Perhaps just not yet.

Approaching, the Torre Valley.  Cerro Torre strutting her stuff.  

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