Thursday, March 14, 2013

Patagonia 2013

   Patagonia trip report:                             February 2013,                           El Chalten, Argentina
Cerro Torre & Condors.

About three weeks were spent around this small town outside of the Patagonia mountains
with my partners Liz Donley and Thomas Engelbach.  We stayed in a small apartment in town while the weather was not cooperating in the higher areas.  Time is spent reading, listening to music, drinking beer / wine / whiskey, and eating empanadas (little hot pockets of goodness) & factorias (small pastries)

If you are lucky, some friendly locals will host an asado, or barbacoa (BBQ) for you!

Our landlord Marcelo shows us how it's done here in Argentina!

The mighty FitzRoy massif towers above El Chalten! 
Sport climbing around town is always enjoyable, but we are here for the mountains!
Liz (orange shirt) belaying Alto Thomas (purple shirt)
Bird watching is a good pass time.  Here is a Magellenic woodpecker.

Here is a good video clip of the invisible partner called Mr. Wind.  He likes to spoil climbing plans...

We did have one very good weather window while there...  So when this happened we wasted no time,
and packed our bags.  We headed into the Torre valley to climb on the back side of the FitzRoy massif.  Our plan was to climb the formation called Aguja Saint Exupery (2550m)  via a quality route called Chiaro di Luna   (Clear Moonlight)  6b+ or 5.11a,   750m or 20 some pitches long.

We experienced perfect conditions ranging from perfect cracks, sunny days and warm temps, no wind, and nice dry rock.  Little to no ice was blocking up the cracks!  I was very pleased with this, and was able to onsite the route clean.  No need to pull on gear (in the mountains) for once, sweet!

Here is a photo journey of our climb, enjoy!

The first 8 miles of the 12 mile approach are easy...
Then after the river crossing the trail gets more technical.

Loose glacier moraines.  Standard fare on the approaches.

A few miles of glacier travel.

With water crossings, that disappear into the glacier randomly.

Then you are at the first camp (Niponino)  Our route climbs the center tower in the sun.
It only takes about 4 hours to approach the base of the climb from here...

Approaching to the base in the dark, we hoped to start our day of climbing just after first light.

Fun beginning pitches.
We climbed in block style.  I led the first 8 pitches.
One of the crux pitches.   Splitter!
Liz follows the splitter pitch, which ended in another crux traverse.
Liz & Thom crushing it!
Living the dream!
Final leads of my block.
Beautiful!  Liz, El Mocho (behind left-low) ,  Cerro Torre,  Egger, Herron,  Standhardt,  and Bifida. (left to right)
Liz starting her block of leads.
Our climb heads up left toward the skyline.
The weather sucks right now...
Thom starts his block.
Late in the day...
Thom heads out on a final lead to reach a good bivy ledge.
One of Liz's self portraits.
I like this hotel room, it has a great view!
Our room came with a Double bed, and a single bed.  Dinner of chorizo & cheese was included!
All for a low low price of blood, sweat, and tears.
Thom starting the remainder of his block the next morning.
Climbing in Patagonia requires work, but the rewards are great! Good stone, good summits!
Thom heads for the spike!
Take a seat, it's solid!
Thom heads up some final pitches nearing the summit.

Thom starts up the summit pitch!
Liz finishes up the summit pitch!
A nice summit, with a nice view, in nice weather... Imagine that?!
Cumbre - left to right:   Torre,   Egger,   Herron,  Standhardt,   Alto Thomas.
And as you know, it's never over until you touch down on the ground!
As always...  The weather starts to turn, you are running out of food or fuel, you are sore & tired...
So you hike out, and reflect on what the mountains were nice enough to let you get away with!

Cerro Torre, and Orion (Upside down)


  1. Nice work on a GREAT adventure! And, GREAT work on an exceptional document of it!

  2. Damn Cory,

    You guys ROCK!

    What a great trip report1

  3. Awesome! Just stumbled across this - I think I bought a pair of ice tools from you a couple years ago.Sweet pics and climb. Looks wild and sobering.