Wind and rain has finally returned to Bariloche, after what has seemed like months of warm and dry summer. So it makes sense to sit down and write a little TR about my recent trip down to Chalten.
After the monthlong trip I was down here working ended at the end of November up I took the bus down to Chalten which is currently taking about 24 hours (13 hours less than the first time I took it down in 2008!).
I was all jacked up about trying to get on the Ragni Route on the Torre this year, having been not just a little bit bummed that the one season I decided to take off from Patagonia and try to ski a hundred days saw drought conditions in the Sierra and all time perfect conditions on Torre.
Wagner met me and we settled into our digs back at the ramshackle house of Tito Ramirez. Always fun seeing what strange new construction projects Tito is working on. Code does not exist.
After catching up with many friends who return year after year to Chalten, we got the sense that the new Patagonia (weather windows every week, and extended windows of 10 plus days) was not the case this year and that very few climbs had been completed during the season so far.
Just a few days after arriving and going bouldering a bit in order to try to remember how to actually climb we decided that the forecast looked decent enough to go out and try. "Hay que probar" was the slogan of the mission. Wagner and I packed up a light little kit and taxied up to Puente Electrico, which I hadn´t visited since Geoff and I were dropped off at 1 am or so before approaching Fitz Roy to climb the Afanasieff Route 2 years ago.
The wall of rain was sitting at the edge of the valley waiting for us. We approached he high camp bivy Piedra Negra via Piedra del Fraile in non stop rain and wind that kept knocking us off our feet, got to camp and set up the tent JUST as the heavy stuff started rolling in. We were expecting the weather to abate earlier in the morning and attempt something a little more involved but with rain still falling at 4am we slept in a little bit and modified our objective to something more casual, the Amy-Vidhailet Route on Aguja Guillamet.
The Amy is a super classic route on the northernmost summit of the Fitz Roy Massif, and is a good choice when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. Which it was. After arriving to the edge of the Rio Blanco glaciar we roped up, headed up to the bergschrund and made quick work of getting into the couloir, climbing a long pitch of steep isothermic snow using a high end technique I developed called Punch, Punch, Pray. The route itself is about 200 meters long and consists mostly of a moderate 65/70 degree ice smear 3-5 feet wide with a few mixed rock steps near the top. Despite the rain in the night and warmish conditions the route was in decent shape and made for really fun climbing.
We swapped leads up through the ice pitches and rock bands and were on top in just under 3 hours, with clouds swirling around allowing brief glimpses of some of the grander peaks around us.
We rapped the same line and boogied back down to pick up our camp and hitchhike back to town before the empanada shop closed!
After waiting around in vain for any hopes of the big window we were looking for Wagner decided to return to work in Brazil and so without a partner I returned to Bariloche to climb some warm weather rock routes with my friend Matteo.
It is a little frustrating to have come so far with the hope and expectation of getting on the route which I had been physically and mentally training for, ready to take the next step after an incredible season 2 years ago, only to have a complication at every step. It is heartening though to have at least been able to climb something while in Chalten, and was an important piece in realizing how much these peaks and the prospect of climbing them has defined my life over the past 5 years. They will still be there, and with a little bit of luck, I´ll get my chance too.
Thanks to the American Alpine Club
and the SW Region Live Your Dream Grant for giving me the opportunity to live my dreams and to persue my goals, whatever the outcome is.
For more TRs check out http://www.ryanhuetter.blogspot.com