So after our exciting flights and travels to get here, I am finally writing from Patagonia. There were a few moments along the way that I was un-sure I’d make it here due to delayed flights, and almost missing a connecting flight where we had to travel from one airport to another. But now that I am here I can relax, or so I thought…
I’m over here until the end of January with Calum Muskett, Dave Macloed and Ben Winston. Mostly this trip is about Calum and Dave free climbing Cerro Torre. Ben Winston is going to film and photograph them, and I’m along to be Ben’s climbing partner for the project. I’ve also got a bunch of photo shoot stuff to do for Rab and Zamberlan, because as we all know Patagonia’s weather isn’t renowned for it’s perfect blue bird days with a cool summer breeze. It’s more commonly known for being windy, but windy would be a dramatic understatement for here. So at least we’ll get a load of images for these companies who have so graciously invested in this trip. You could say it’s a month of work, but I think a lot of people would have a go at me for calling it ‘work’. Hopefully if we get a load of this ‘work’ out off the way soon, we can get to climb a few things for ourselves. No matter what happens on this trip, I’m just pretty stoked to be here and see this part of the world.
After 2 days of full travelling we arrived in El Chalten on Wednesday night to discover that there was a good day of weather the next day. So Ben and myself decided to head up for a small peak called Mojon Rojo, and do some photo shoot stuff up there. Then we would at least have something in the bag at the start of the trip. This route is a perfect alpine peak for someone who is new to climbing in the mountains, as there’s not really much difficulties and is very safe. It’s really similar to stuff like ‘petit aiguille verte’ and ‘domes du miage’ in the Mt Blanc Massiff. It’s a perfect route to go ‘fast & light’, instead we thought we’d change this by taking 20kg bags of photo shoot materials and use the ‘slow and sh*te’ tactic.
I’d really recommend Mojon Rojo to someone looking to climb an easy classic alpine route in Patagonia. You really don’t need much kit for it, and if you felt fit enough you could easily do a round trip from town in a day. If you wanted to spend a bit more time in the hills and take it easier on the legs, then there is a perfect bivvy cave just before the glacier. You still have a big day up to the bivvy, which is about 6 hours from town. The glacier is very safe, but I would recommend taking a rope and crevasse gear just in case. Also maybe take a few slings for the climb up to the summit.
It felt pretty surreal to be amongst the Patagonian mountains, within 24 hours of arriving, for a photo shoot. We were just south from Fitz Roy and Poincenot, a couple of the many famous towers that make up the El Chalten Massif. These things are like sky scrapers that lean over you even though they are still a few kilometres away.
It was great to get first days shoot out of the way, plus get to see the place and know how the walk ins feel. Mostly it was pretty spectacular to be able to head into the mountains and see all these huge towers that are steeped in history.
The main thing I’ve discovered here is that the walk ins are huge. The majority are on brilliant paths, but it’s still so much distance to get to the climbing. I’m a more used to the steep ups of Chamonix, rather than these long gradual approaches. However the views and scenery here do distract you from the long slog in.
Looks like the next few days are going to be pretty windy and cold up high. So there won’t be much happening for us in the mountains apart from a few hike/runs up to the lakes to look at conditions and get some footage. There might be some warmer weather coming next week, but that is too far away to know for sure. For just now we’ll just have to play the waiting game, which consists of cragging, bouldering and lots of tea. I’ll post up soon with any news or any of the other happenings that happen along the way.