Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chalten and Fitz Roy

The two weeks after Torres Del Paine went by like a highlight reel. Life felt nearly as large as the expanses of Patagonia as i hitch hiked my way north along the rain-shadowed wastelands east of the Andes. I made a few key left hand turns to get back into some magical places and through a bit of luck and timing i randomly met up with the Swiss Girls again in Fitz Roy (Chalten). My plan had been a solo 5 night epic crossing the whole region, doing big 30 k days, getting out onto the southern ice field and exploring some of the lesser traveled non-technical ridges and high elevation lakes...after sharing a camping area the first night with the girls though, my energy intensive gung-ho plan was quickly downscaled to a much more leisurely pace full of short days, big meals, good company and endless laughs...The ladies even took pity on my bland and tasteless meals and fed me cheese and treats. We spent 3 days on the trails with mixed weather. It cleared on our last day and a half and the views never fell short of mind-boggling. Nothing but amazing really!

2 days of hitching north...You can camp here, here, here, here, here or here...or well, wherever the hell you want. Water was my only worry but i carried much and restocked when i could which meant i could get dropped off anywhere, which is exactly where i got dropped many times.
Not too much going in these parts

Chalten here I come

Waiting for cars

Not the beach, just beach like

This part of Argentina is dominated by ranches holding huge land holdings and pretty much nothing else. Beautiful glacial rivers pour from the lakes and carve their way to the Atlantic.

Finally in Chalten with Fitz Roy looming in the back

The morning sunrise of Fitz Roy thwarted by low lying clouds (i swear its just right back there..somewhere), regardless we made the morning hike up for a lake view and a few group shots. Me, Sarah, Sue, and Corne

The Weather cleared and the land appeared...Cerro Torre, nearly 6000 ft of climbing from its base to summit spire.

This park is split into two worlds...the tourists and the climbers. The tourists are kep in the front valleys far from the ice and the peaks, certain trails and high camps are never spoken of and for the most part the general hiker has no idea that there is an entire community of climbers living further up in the mountains making bold attempts at the summits during rare weather windows...
We got to camp two and with a little wandering around i found this tyrolean traverse set up to bring climbers across the often-swollen river and up higher to camps not shown on the regular touro maps. I wanted in to this secret world. Each rope is equipped with a heavy duty pulley and with a climbing harness on you clip in and pull yourself and gear across the river. With no harness however i was left to my own devices. I snagged the rope with my hands, lifted my feet and latched them around it leaving me elevated and horizontal to the world below. From this position you inch-worm yourself across...hands slide out along the rope above your head, clench and feet slide up behind, reach out again with your hands, clench, slide feet - repeat. Dont get tired, dont fall.