Trip Report
Alpine Antics in Patagonia
Thursday December 26, 2013 10:38am

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.

Aguja Guillamet
Aguja Guillamet
Credit: Hoots

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 hadnīt 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.

Credit: Hoots

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.

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

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.

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

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!

Credit: Hoots

Credit: Hoots

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, Iīll 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.

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About the Author
Hoots is just a dude living on the Eastside, who just pretends to be a climber in between bouts of snail-eye. He plans on spending more time fishing, less time grovelling.


Boulder climber
  Dec 26, 2013 - 10:54am PT
I spent last january in Chalten partnerless and only got a shot at Guillaumet via the Fonrouge route...icy conditions turned us around..such a great place, i look forward to going back next season...thanks for the stoke!

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 26, 2013 - 11:47am PT
Thank you for the report! Which route did you train for? I am sort of thinking about going to Patagonia next year...

  Dec 26, 2013 - 12:38pm PT


Mammoth Lakes, CA
Author's Reply  Dec 26, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
Yah, itīs a good comparison to N. Peak- a bit steeper and funky though, plus no walk off. Many folks have soloed the Amy though, nothing really cutting edge about it... just a fun little route for when its crappy out.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Dec 26, 2013 - 02:57pm PT
Thanks for the fun story and great photos. Sad to hear that you didn't have more user-friendly conditions.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Dec 26, 2013 - 03:13pm PT
Excellent post and TR, hoots. I've always wanted to visit Patagonia, but time and money never coincided. Thank you for giving me a chance to visit vicariously.


  Dec 26, 2013 - 07:59pm PT
love chalten trip reports, thanks

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Dec 26, 2013 - 09:44pm PT
wayne w

Trad climber
the nw
  Dec 26, 2013 - 10:54pm PT
Great TR Hoots! You'll get it next time.

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Dec 29, 2013 - 11:02am PT
Excellent TR. I wish you some better weather for your goals on future trips. No matter what or where you climb, one thing I think all climbers have experienced is a trip frustrated by weather - cold, rain, heat...

Code does not exist.

This reminds me of a trip we did with my brother and his wife to Cozumel a year before he passed. He was an electrical engineer, who worked for a major power company, and he was fascinated and amazed at the wiring he saw there. he took lots of pictures to take home to show his work colleagues.


Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Dec 29, 2013 - 11:15am PT
Hoots you've had such good luck down there....I'd hate to think you're coming to think of Chalten as some kind of alpine Tenaya Lake experience! Thanks for filling us in on the haps. keep it it coming.
The Dak

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 29, 2013 - 05:29pm PT
What's the good beta on the ride from Bariloche to Chalten right now? I'm gonna need to take that bus in early Feb. How much does it cost?

Thanks for sharing the stoke! Amy is better than nothing, eh? Hopefully you got to boulder the nice blocs scattered about and scarf down some empanadas!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 29, 2013 - 06:39pm PT
Yeehaw! Good old fashioned alpine action. Supertopo needs more of this these days! Thanks for taking the time and energy to post this. We dig it!


Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Dec 29, 2013 - 06:48pm PT
Woot! Nice TR!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jan 1, 2014 - 08:43am PT
nice looking ice climb!!!!
Myles Moser

Lone Pine, Ca
  Jan 23, 2014 - 07:04pm PT
Hoots... Always Active!
The Larry

  Jan 23, 2014 - 07:21pm PT
Thanks for all the sweet pics!