It´s been a long time since my last post, mainly because I haven´t DONE anything in the last few weeks! After the last attempt on de la S, there was a 2 week storm that either forced people to pack up and bail or to wait it out and endure a strange brew of Patagonian cabin fever.
With swollen rivers and deep snow, I was held captive my my gear cache at my high camp below the Rio Blanco glacier, so we sat out the storm in epic Patagonian fashion. Two long weeks were filled with seemingly unending asados (BBQs) with a live band courtesy Nico Favresse, Mason and Sean Villanueva, baking marathons, brief bouldering sessions at the Madsen boulders in town, and by going for days impersonating Borat.
Nico, Mason and Sean
Beckett crooning. Notice lack of opposite gender.
Nico on Vaca Muerte
When the weather forecast finally did show a 2 day window for the 22nd and 23rd, Wagner and I made plans to go back up and complete the Austrian route on de la S and retrieve my cache. I changed my flight back to the States so that this would be my last attempt- my patience was already worn too thin to wait for another good window.
Bivy Cave below Rio Blanco Glacier
We hiked up to the cave in good time and with light packs, arriving to find more food than I had thought I left, so we had a nice meal and settled in early. Waking up at 4:30am, we were on the glacier at 5:10 and making tracks up to the base of the route. As the sun came up and covered Fitzroy and Poincenot with a ruby red glow, I could not believe how much snow had actually fallen during the storm. All the open crevasses had been filled or covered over, and the SE faces of de las S and St. Exupery were blasted with rime ice.
Sunrise on Poincenot and Fitzroy
Wagner looking up at the route
Once we were at the base of the snow ramp, we were confronted with the harsh reality of Patagonia: climbing rock routes after a huge storm is dumb. There were two large slab avalanches that had come down the ramp (probably the day before), and the upper dihedral pitches were choked with snow and ice. With our backup route (the Bulgarian direct) also out of condition, we headed down.
The Calm before the STORM
On the way, the "good" weather decided to pack up as well, and was replaced by a mixture of snow, rain, and the strongest winds I have ever been in. At one point while hiking down from the cave, it was coming in so strong that I was being lifted OFF my feet and moved a couple meters!
So back down in town I began to pack up, and I bailed yesterday, taking a flight out of Calafate to Buenos Aires, where I sit and write this note. You can´t win em all, and for a first trip to Patagonia feel like I may not have accomplished any of the ambitions I came down with, but did get to stand on top of Cerro Solo, and now have all the beta and ideas for how to make the next trip down here that much better.
I'm OUTTA here!