Patagonia 2013 Trip Updates

Sunday 8 December 2013, 11:30am -- daniel.joll

Torre Massif

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Youtube Videos & Expedition Report

Supercaneleta Mt Fitz Roy Patagonia Climbing

Cerro Torre West Face

El Mocho North Face Patagonia

Exocet Chimney Mt Standhardt Patagonia

A week of climbing in Patagonia, Torre Egger, Exocet Standhardt & Media Luna

Expedition Report

New Zealand Alpine Team Expedition

Cerro Torre, Torre Egger 1st December 2013 – 6th January 2014

 

Team members

Jono Clarke, Daniel Joll, Steve Fortune

Sponsors

Macpac (clothing, packs, sleeping bags and tents), Jetboil (cooking stoves)

Objectives

To make the first ascent of Torre Egger by a NZ team.  Combined with an alpine style ascent of Cerro Torre. 

Climbs and Attempts

Torre Egger, East Face via a combination of Titanic and Italian routes –attempt retreated due to poor conditions and falling ice after around 250m of climbing. 

Medialuna 1900m, Rubio Y Azul  – 6c, 10 pitches.  Excellent crack climbing with all belay stations in place.  Rappel the last two pitches then continue straight down.

Aguja Standhardt 2700m, Exocet – WI5+.  Fantastic ice chimney crux with a sustained 200m of WI5 – WI5+.  Climbed in a short weather window from Noruegos Bivvy 20 hours return which involved several hours off route and stuck ropes on descent.  In good conditions and good weather the route could be done much faster.  This climb started and finished in poor weather with high winds, rain and snow. 

Cerro Torre West Face 3102m , Ragni Route attempt.  We climbed to approx 2850m high on the Ragni Route.  Leaving from our bivvy Noruegos we reached our high point in approx 12 hours.  Bad weather, high winds and very cold temperatures convinced us to turn around.  This was partly based on the fact we had no suitable bivvy gear to sit out the cold, and our main gear stash on the eastern side of the mountain at the Noruegos Bivvy.  We returned back to the Torre Valley the same day via Col Standhardt arriving around 1am the following morning.  We found the return climb back up and over Col Standhardt fairly straight forward.  However we did leave a fixed rope on the final rappel to make the return trip over the col faster. 

El Mocho, North Face 1950m, Frader Pisafe – 400m 6c+ We made this climb after returning from an attempt on the Ragni route on Cerro Torre, Starting at 12pm having returned from Cerro Torre at 1am the same day, Steve and Daniel climbed to the top of El Mocho summiting in a storm, we arrived back at our bivvy around 9pm that evening.  Excellent rock climbing on this route.  Jono sat this climb out due to problems with his knee.  The Frader Pisafe is a good half day route suitable for short weather windows.  We found the final pitch a running waterfall but it was easy enough to climb without getting to wet. 

Fitz Roy, 3405m, Supercaneleta 1600m.  With our climbing gear stashed at Noruegos Bivvy in the Torre Valley we pushed this climb in a very marginal weather window during the last days of our trip.  Weeks of snow, wind and rain had plastered the mountain in rime ice.  Where most parties find rock climbing we only found ice and mixed climbing the entire route with crampons and axes.  From the base it took us approx 21.5 hours to the summit with around 9-10 hours in descent.  Added to this was the approach to and from the Torre Valley and the walk in and out from town.  As it was the last climb of our trip we also had to break camp after returning to the Torre Valley and talk all of our high camp ropes & equipment back to town.  All up we were awake for 64 hours during this climb and the return walk to town, 52 of those hours climbing or walking, climbing in temperatures around -20.  During the five weeks we were in Patagonia we were the only team to summit on Fitz Roy. 

During our five week trip we really only received one weather window that lasted just more than 24 hours, it was on our third day of the trip! Most other climbing opportunities were pushed in weather windows that lasted anywhere from 6 – 12 hours.  The season up to the point where we left was being considered a typical old fashioned Patagonian season.  It was not like the previous two years where large weather windows were common place.  Of the four expeditions Daniel had made to date to this area this trip had the worst weather. 

Transport & Costs

NZD – Peso at time of expedition = 5 Peso – 1 NZD  We found the cheapest way to get cash was via the atm machine in El Chalten.  1000 Peso converted to $205 NZD including all bank fees. 

Insurance via NZAC = $400 (approx)

NZ – Argentina via Santiago, Overnight then Buenos Aires – El Calafate on Lan Chile.  Costs of flights including internal transfers $4200 NZ return. 

Airport Taxi: USD50.  Not booking a taxi on the way back worked best for us we got one off the street for 300P,  it looked like a good strategy for getting a cheap ride into town when your at the international airport was to take your baggage down to the departures section and jump in a taxi that had just dropped someone off, rather than pre booking and paying the higher price.

                :Domestic P100 for 3

Buenos Aires Hotel: Mariposita (www.mariposita.com.ar) USD150 for 3 (including BF)

Internal bus from El Calafate – El Chelten with Las Lingas cost P220  + P100 excess baggage each way.  Return P170 (www.transportelaslengas.com.ar)

Camping: P700 per month (Del Largo Camp Ground and Hostel)

Food and other in town expenses:  It would be possible to live on anywhere from $10 NZD per day.  For a budget of $30 -$50 per day you will live very well. A good restaurant meal in El Chelten including a beer costs around $20 – $30 NZD.   We probably spent around 1500 – 2000 NZD each for the five weeks.  For this we lived very well.

Departure costs El Calafate 38P per person.

On the way out we stayed in Palermo at the Soho Hostel.  A room for 3 including a basic breakfast was 400 Peso per night.

The black market exchange rate in most towns for USD is much better than the official exchange rate so its well worth bringing a good supply of USD with you to exchange. 

Tactics

El Chalten is now an established town with accommodation, climbing shops, groceries, and restaurants. There is wifi and internet cafes, and weather forecasting is available (see www.pataclimb.com/knowledge/cheltenweather.html). The weather is general poor in the mountains, with short clearances in which to climb. It makes sense to stay in comfort in El Chalten, watch the forecast and move quickly on an objective once the weather starts to clear. To make this easier, you can stash your climbing equipment at a high bivvy site (eg Noruegos or Passo Superior) and walk in lighter. So tactically it’s good to have multiple objectives accessed from this single base.

Climbing Approach for Torre Egger attempts

The approach is going to be for the leader to short fix every pitch once we have finished any simul climbing

As the leader pulls the ropes to fix the seconds will dismantle the belay and fix their jummars to the ends of each rope.  No knots in the ends of the ropes.  The leader calls fixed and both seconds start to jummar. 

For the leader it is important to fix each rope on a separate autolocking biner.  It is important that the free hanging rope which has no gear though it gets placed on top.  This allows the first second to untie the fixed rope when they arrive and send up any rack from the previous anchor to the leader. 

The leader will always pull the free hanging rope first.  Fix it and then pull  the other rope that runs through the gear this way the seconds will know the first rope is fixed when the lead line starts to be pulled. 

One second goes flat out and gets to the belay as fast as possible.  (by this time the leader is already climbing on self belay or if easy just running it out placing the odd runner) once the first second arrives they put the leader back on belay and send up any gear to the leader using their rope they have just untied from the fixed anchor.  It is very important that the first second takes all the gear from the bottom belay so this can be passed to the leader right away.  When the second (second) arrives to the belay the rest of the kit is sent up to the leader.

Before the trip get a copy of each persons family contact details in the own country and give to each other, plus find out if anyone has any special medical conditions.

Gear List

The Gear List has been made up for a three man team and attempts on Cerro Torre and Torre Egger.

To cover 2 styles climbing, standard seconding on pair of half ropes, or if climbing is harder (including aid) shortfixing by leader with 2nd jumaring.

Required gear for camping in town, and stashed gear at high bivvy Noruegos Aim to watch forecast closely, and walk into bivvy at start of weather clearance, and single push from bivvy in good weather. Rest of time spent waiting for weather clearance is spent in town. So separate camping and climbing gear required for town bad weather days.

Climbing Food:

  • Back Country meals 6 double size meals per person..
  • Gu Shots x 120 all
  • Gu Chomps 60 packets
  • Power Bars x 60 OSM
  • 2kg electrolyte mix

This will give us enough climbing food for two – three full attempts, 20 – 60 hours each.  For any one day attempts where we are just learning the route etc or making the most of a short weather window we will use other food from town.  As of 2013 there was little good climbing specific food available to buy in town, you can however get a most other food there including things like instant mash for taking on the mountain. 

Equipment:

The approach is going to be for the leader to short fix every pitch once we have finished simul climbing.

Climbing:

  • 2 x 9.8mm 60m ropes for jummaring and short fixing. 
  • 2 x half ropes. 
  • 1 x cragging rope for town
  • 12x quickdraws for town cragging.
  • 20m of 6mm prussic cord for fixing anchors.
  • Main climbing crampons.
  • [optional for some routes] 1 x light weight aluminium alpine climbing crampon
  • 2 x ice axe and or mixed climbing tools per person with hammers
  • Ice wings for nomics.
  • 1 x small file for sharpening crampons / picks 
  • 1 x spare pick for ice tools.
  • 1 x Allen key or spanner for tightening axes
  • 1 x travel bag for crampons
  • 12 light weight extendable quick draws
  • 2 x 120cm light weight spectra sewn sling
  • Pitons (approx 6)
  • 2 x auto locking screw gate style biners for atc and fixing anchors per person.
  • 2 x light weight screw gates per person
  • 5 x old snap locks per person for leaving on abseils on the route. Each person to bring 5. 
  • 1 x atc guide style belay device per person
  • 2 x jummars per 2nd (4 in total)
  • 2 x daisy chain or safety sling per person small spectra style light ones
  • 2 x alpine light weight etrier per person (or foot loops for 2nds)
  • 1 x helmet per person light under 400g
  • 1 x climbing harness per person (needs to weigh less than 350g)
  • 2 x sets of wires number 1 – 8 + 1 set rps/offsets
  • Double set of cams 0-4 camalots
  • 1 x light weight biner per cam
  • 12 x ice screws for team, 2 long, 8 med 2 short
  • Ice threader per person
  • 3 yates screamers
  • 1 x chalk bag per person
  • 1 x spare pot of chalk
  • 3 x rolls of hand tape per person or crack climbing gloves. 
  • 1 x sky hook + 1 x sky talon + 1 x copperhead
  • 3 x grigri. Adapted for self belay
  • 1 x monical or similar binoculars [optional]
  • 2 x snow stakes for mushroom ice, these can be rented in El Chalten if space is tight coming from NZ

Route bivvy gear:

  • 1 x shovel (light weight) [optional]
  • 1 x bivvy bag per person (or other mountain shelter)
  • Bothy Bag [optional]
  • Mat (cutdown Z rest)
  • Ultralight sleeping bag (<500g) [optional] this is good for leaving at your high camp
  • 1 x large carrying pack, 70 L + per person
  • 1 x 35 - 45 L climbing pack (under 600g)
  • 2 x 1 nalgene per person
  • 1 x 10L water bladder
  • 1 x pen + notebook per person
  • 1 Jetboil 800ml variety (Gas bought in El Chalten)
  • 1 spoon
  • Drybags for gear at least five large ones per person. (and stashing kit at high bivvy sites)
  • Sat Phone is handy for getting up to date forecasts while away in the mountains and emergencies.

Town camp gear:

  • 1 x base camp tent 4 person. 
  • Cooking stove –available in campsite in town.
  • 1 x light weight frying pan
  • 1 x 2L billy
  • 1 x fish slice
  • 1 x spoon/cup/bowl per person
  • 1 x leatherman multi tool per two people
  • 1 x light climbing knife i.e. petzl knife that can attach to harness one per person
  • 1 x light plastic chopping board
  • 1 x water purifier pump / pen optional as on average drinking water is excellent.
  • 1 x long flexible drinking straw per person for use on route and glaciers each person
  • 1 x pot scrub
  • 1 x block of soap each person to bring one
  • Lighters, gas, other cooking supplies can be brought in town.
  • 1 x silk sleeping bag liner per person
  • 1 x sleeping bag per person (light ok for town)
  • 1 x sleeping mat (full length, heavy ok)
  • 1 x small dry bag for top of pack per person
  • Stuff sack for organising clothing

Footwear:

  • 1 x pair of light snow gaiters per person
  • 1 x alpine boot.  Good for ice climbing.
  • 1 x pair jandles per person
  • 1 x pair approach shoes per person
  • 1 x spare laces for climbing boots per person
  • 1 x tight fitting rock shoe per person for sport climbing in town.
  • 1 x climbing shoe that can fit a mid weight sock snugly per person
  • 1 x spare laces for climbing shoe per person

Clothing: (all items for each person)

  • 1 x one piece suit or thermal leggings
  • 1 x wind proof soft shell pants (not to heavy)
  • 4 x sports style underwear
  • Small container of foot powder (to stop sweat while walking)
  • Small re sealable container for foot powder
  • 2 x mid weight sock
  • 2 x thin sock
  • 1 x thick sock
  • 1 x travel sock
  • 2 x fleece windstopper gloves
  • 1 x leather glove for rapping and jummaring
  • 1 x waterproof shell to go over the wind  stopper gloves if it starts to rain. 
  • 1 x warm water proof gloves
  • 1 x warm mitt is useful if going early season and doing ice routes.
  • 1 x pair of light walking / causal travel pants
  • 2 x tee shirts causal
  • 1 x small travel towel
  • 1 x sun hat with neck protection
  • 2 x sun glasses with neck strap and cleaning case, nose cover could be useful
  • 1 x snow googles
  • 1 x thin thermol balaclava
  • 1 x short sleeve thermal shirt
  • 1 x long sleeve thermal shirt
  • 1 x silk or non cotton long sleeve shirt for climbing on hot days prob not for use on actual route.
  • 1 x wind stopper fleece jacket (with hood if possible)
  • 1 x synthetic or down belay jacket with hood if possible (down is fine as well) must weigh less than 700g or a combo of thin synthetic or down say 250g and one slightly larger hooded one around 400-500g. 
  • 1 x light weight rain coat, must have hood big enough to go right over helmet, and be large enough to fit over all clothing.
  • Shoe Gu for shoe repair
  • Aqua seal for clothing repair
  • Sewing kit
  • Shorts
  • Causal in town pants
  • In town warm jacket.  It often ends up that you leave all your climbing gear at a high camp so its good to have a spare fleece and something like a wind shirt as spare tops for walk ins and spending time in town.

General Equipment: (for each individual person)

  • 1 x medium size tube of sun block
  • 1 x re usable mini sun block case
  • 1 x lip balm with sting so it can hang around your neck
  • Baby wipes as many as you feel you need
  • 1 x small tube of Vaseline
  • 1 x personal first aid kit
  • 1 x small bottle of detol
  • 2 x rolls of dental floss
  • 1 x tooth paste
  • 1 x small tooth brush
  • 1 x tube of mouth ulcer gel
  • 1 x tube of canastine style unti fungle cream
  • 1 x small travel alarm clock
  • 1 x alpine climbing watch with altitude and barometer (need 1 between 2 minimum)
  • 1 x compass
  • 1 x area topo map (can buy El Chalten)
  • 2 x head lamps and 2 sets of spare batteries
  • 1 x digital camera + spare memory card if required
  • Charger for digital camera
  • Personal toiletries
  • Vitamin supplements
  • No power adaptors needed for Argentina as they use the same three pin plug as NZ. 

Fitz Roy (Supercaneleta) & gambling on a final summit for the trip.

With only five days left in El Chalten we loaded up our packs with food and headed back into the Torre Valley.  We had no fixed objective for this five day period.  Heavy snow, high winds and rain had been hammering the mountains for the previous week and very few routes were in climbable conditions. 

Day one we walked into our bivvy at Noruegos, wind and snow greated us as we headed up the valley.  From here we assessed our climbing options.  Cerro Torre and Torre Egger were out.  The weather was simply too bad and the large amounts of snow fall would make getting to these mountains fairly dangerous.  A 400m long ice climb had come into condition on El Mocho.  This was very close to our bivvy and would have provided a great half day of climbing.  We almost decided to climb this but all of us were keen to push for one more big route.  The Supercaneleta was our logical choice.  Temperatures were forecast to be fridgid! -20 up high on the mountain basically meant no rock climbing routes for this outing.  Our clearance was forecast to be less than one day, this was meant to come in on day three.  We also had a few hours of good weather for our second day of the five day outing. 

Approach to Fitzroy.jpg

Daniel & Jono approaching the West Face of Fitz Roy from the Torre Valley.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

Daniel & Jono approaching the West Face of Fitz Roy from the Torre Valley.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

With the goal of Supercaneleta now firmly planted in our minds we took a gamble and decided to wait out the half day clearance at our bivvy and not do any climbing on day two.  By waitng we ensured our clothing stayed dry, this would be essential for pushing any big climbs in marginal weather.  The big gamble in passing up climbing the shorter ice line was that on day three if the forecast was wrong we would miss out on climbing anything else for this trip.  Lying down at our bivvy until 4pm on day two we waited for the worst of the rain and snow to pass.  We then packed up all our bags and left our high camp taking all of our gear and food down to the Torre Glacier.  The Torre Glacier is not the best starting point for the Supercaneleta and being at Noruegos bivvy just adds more time and walking onto an already long climb.  At 6pm we made our way up the Torre Glacier to the base of the West Face of Fitz Roy.  Arriving around 10.30pm we sat in our bothy bag eating, drinking and shivering until 1.30am.  From here we headed into the first 1000m of the Supercaneleta.  This is a moderate long stretch of ice climbing which we soloed in around 3 hours.  By mistake we left the caneleta a bit early traversing off route and finding ourselves climbing some fairly tough mixed pitches.  After a few hours of this we arrived back to the actual route and the climbing thankfully eased back to moderate ice and mixed. 

Steve upclose frozen.jpg

Steve mid morning during our ascent of the Supercaneleta on Fitz Roy. The temperature was somewhere between -15 & -20 our water bottles all froze solid, with one Nelgine splitting from the water freezing inside!

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve mid morning during our ascent of the Supercaneleta on Fitz Roy. The temperature was somewhere between -15 & -20 our water bottles all froze solid, with one Nelgine splitting from the water freezing inside!

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

The route was in full winter conditions.  We later found out that all other teams trying Fitz Roy that day turned round due to the extreme cold.  Five hours into the route all of our water was frozen solid.  This left us a bit thirsty for the rest of the day! For some reason though no one suggested turning around and we simply endured the cold, focusing on the pitch in front of us.  Luckily the climbing allowed us to mostly simu climb which helped keep us a bit warmer.  We still had to climb with every piece of cothing we had on. 

As we got higher up the climb the weather started to improve.  We couldnt believe our luck.  None of us expected to summit based on how the day had started.  We simply kept going as we had nothing better to do and wanted to squeeze as much climbing as possible into our last outing of the trip.  When we finally got some sun high up on the West Face we started to believe that we might just finish the route.  The rock was completly covered in rime ice and we climbed every pitch using ice axes and crampons.  As the sun started to set we arrived to the final 200m of climbing that leads to the summit of Fitz Roy.  Racing to catch a view of the sunset from the top we climbed the final metres reaching the summit at 10.50pm.  From here we down climbed to a notch at the top of the Supercaneleta and then rappeled back down the West Face.  We arrived back at the base of the route around 9-10am the next morning.  Jono and myself caught a quick power nap while Steve brewed up our first drink in many hours.  By 12pm we were re fueled and ready to walk back into the Torre Glacier.  It took us around 5 hours to descend in the wind, rain and snow to our gear stash on the Glacier.  Originally we had planned to spend the night here but due to the rain and no sheltered spot to bivvy we decided to shoulder our big packs and head striaght back to town.  This took some motivation as the packs weighed in around 30kgs each and we had already been awake for over 50 hours.  In total by the time we reached town at 2am the following morning we had been awake for 64 hours and climbing or walking for approx 52 of those hours. 

Steve seconding Supercaneleta.jpg

Steve seconding high up on the Supercaneleta.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve seconding high up on the Supercaneleta.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve Top of Supercaneleta 2.jpg

Steve at the belay on the final pitch of the Supercaneleta

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve at the belay on the final pitch of the Supercaneleta

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

We had no complaints though and I think its fair to say this outing was one of the most enjoyable of our trip.  We climbed well as a team, we enjoyed the time spent together doing what we love.  All of us arrived back from the climb with pretty high spirits.  I am sure more motivated than before knowing that we had all just pushed through a new barrier of pain and suffering coming away with another classic climb in less than ideal weather and conditions.  A great way to finish our 5 weeks in Patagonia.  This trip has taught us allot about maximising very short weather windows, working as a team and pushing ourselves on some challenging conditions.  

Jono Summit Ridge.jpg

Jono on the summit ridge of Fitz Roy. Sunset over the Patagonian Ice Cap.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Jono on the summit ridge of Fitz Roy. Sunset over the Patagonian Ice Cap.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve double carry.jpg

Steve loaded up & heading to town with his share of our high camp gear. We walked out right after climbing the Supercaneleta. The last 8 hours with big packs on was pretty hard work.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve loaded up & heading to town with his share of our high camp gear. We walked out right after climbing the Supercaneleta. The last 8 hours with big packs on was pretty hard work.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

 
Cerro Torre West Ridge (Ragni attempt to 2850m) & El Mocho North Face (Frader Pisafe 400m 6c+) 22nd December 2013

We have just returned from a five day trip into the Torre Valley and the Patagonian Ice Cap.  Based on the forecast, we had high hopes of reasonable weather for an attempt on Cerro Torre and possiblly a second climb on Torre Egger after a rest day.  Clearly the weather had other plans.  We left town Tuesday morning and walked in to our bivvy rock at Noruegos up the Torre Glacier. We managed to get to bed for a few hours before an 11pm wake up call. The Ragni Route starts on the complete opposite side of the mountain, so we needed to climb over a col on the right, down the the Patagonian Icecap on the other side, then back up to a col on the left. At 12am we were underway and headed towards Col Standhardt. With a good freeze, fine weather, and a full moon, things were looking good.  After a few hours we reached the magnificent Circos de los Altares and viewed the fantastic West Faces above in the moonlight, steep granite faces sparkling with freshly plastered rime ice.  The initial 1000m of the route to the col were mostly easy with a couple of harder sections pitched or moving together placing protection. From the col, the route steepened with bulletproof blue ice, covered with feathers of delicate rime from the last storm. Unfortunately,  from around 10am the weather began to deterioate, significantly earlier than forecast.  So at the first mushroom, several hundred meters from the summit we found ourselves in some pretty rough, freezing weather.  With all our clothing on, only a bothy bag for shelter we were not in any position to sit out the freezing temperatures and had to make the call to turn around.  It is a long way from the western slopes of the mountain  back to the Torre Valley.  From our high point we descended 1300m back down to the ice cap.  Then began the gruelling climb back up over Col Standhardt and then another long descent back down to our bivvy spot 25 hours after leaving it.  From town, a total of 4000m height gain and around 30km of walking, this was a lot of work to miss out on the top! 

Jono Ragni.jpg

Jono Clarke high up on the West Face of Cerro Torre (Ragni Route)

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

Jono Clarke high up on the West Face of Cerro Torre (Ragni Route)

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

The following morning we awoke to glorious still, sunny weather. Knackered, but not wanting to waste the nice day, Steve and myself racked up and headed off to the North Face of El Mocho.  Jono decided to rest his knee and take a day off.  Starting a climb at noon is probably never a good idea in Patagonia but we got stuck into the 10 pitch 6c+ route, our toes screaming out in pain after all the previous days front pointing.  Sometime early evening about two pitches from the top the weather turned again, rain, snow high winds.  We topped out the route by climbing the final pitch a free flowing waterfall half covered in snow.  Steve wearing only thermals and shorts was rather cold at this point and we luckily had a good descent with little in the way of stuck ropes.  Arriving back to our bivvy at 9.30pm completly soaked, cold and tired.  Both of us were happy though to have made the most of the good weather spell.  You never know if the good weather window will be the last for the trip so even if your dead tired its good to just get up and go for it anyway. 

Sunrise.jpg

Early morning sunrise over the Patagonian Ice Cap. With a full moon looking on.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Early morning sunrise over the Patagonian Ice Cap. With a full moon looking on.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

The following 32 hours were spent in one position with the bivvy bag zipped closed.  Snow, rain and high winds whipped our bivvy site.  Steve and Jono were tucked up nicely under an overhanging rock, while I lay outside copping most of the bad weather head on.  I didnt manage much sleep during that time. We hoped to climb the next day, but the morning we were covered in fresh snow and more stormy weather, so had to pack it in and walk back to town. Our gear is stashed under the rocks ready for the next clearance, so fingers crossed for another attempt!  A few days of bad weather are now forecast so its back to relaxing, eating and hopefully a bit of boudering and sport climbing. 

Steve El Mocho 1.jpg

Steve reaching belay on north face of El Mocho

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve reaching belay on north face of El Mocho

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

For more photos from the expedition check out https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.544380048981972.1073741831.436565836430061&type=1&l=bf0337a40f

 

A week of waiting.  El Chalten 9th December - 16th 2013

After the first week of climbing with three climbable days and over 100km of walking up and down the Torre Glacier this last 7 days has been pretty relaxed.  For every calorie we lost during week one, we have added at least four new ones over the past week.  Pizza, steak, ice cream, cakes, coffee with cream.  Everything you can eat and lots of it.  El Chalten is a pretty nice place to relax and re charge the batteries.  We have had some great times catching up with friends from all over the world.  Sport climbing and bouldering, basically relaxing eating and waiting for the weather to clear.  

The next five days should prove interesting. We have a mixed bag in the forecast. At this stage it looks like we should get at least two climbable days, with periods of rain, snow and wind mixed in between them. With that in mind our small team has packed five days of food into our packs and will be heading back up the Torre Valley first thing tomorrow morning. I doubt there will be any climbers left in town come tomorrow evening. Everywhere you look people are packing bags, sorting gear and getting in their last big meal before heading to the hills. If the weather co operates we hope to make attempts on both Cerro Torre and Torre Egger. It will be a big ask to come away with both of these peaks with the current conditions and weather, but we are rested and excited about the prospect of pushing ourselves on a new adventure.

Moonrise over fitzroy.jpg

Moon rise over the Fitz Roy Massif

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Moon rise over the Fitz Roy Massif

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

 

Exocet  - Aguja Standhard 9th December 2013

For the end of our first week in El Chalten we spotted a brief 12 hour fine weather window on the meteogram.  The wind was still supposed to stay high but we thought it might just be possible to sneak in one quick climb if we timed everything right.  With all our gear stashed at Noruegos Bivvy we walked 20km up the Torre Glacier mid morning hoping for a short sleep before an 11pm wake up call.  The brief clearance in the weather was supposed to last from 12am - 12pm.  The alarm went off at 11pm and we pushed down a breakfast of instant mash, the wind was still blowing pretty hard.  We decided to go for it anyway and slowly worked our way up the glacier to Col Standhardt.  Steve as usual was in the lead breaking trail.  This job was made much easier by another team who had walked in just before us and had already made their way to the Col.  3am saw us fighting powerful wind and biting cold at Col Standhardt.  The two Amercian climbers were huddled in a bothy bag trying to get some rest between wind gusts. We were pretty happy to get the oppertunity to pass them at this point.  Climbing an ice climb behind another team is a reciepe for disaster and if we had ended up behind another party we probably would have had to pull the pin on the days climbing.  

Steve fired off the first few pitches up some ice covered slabs.  Usually these would be easy rock climbing but with the windchill somewhere around -10 climbing the slabs in crampons and gloved hands with ice axes was pretty intense.  A wrong turn on the second pitch saw him 10 - 15m run out above poor protection and after a couple of hours cuddling Jono at the belay in a vain attempt to warm up we were both pretty happy to be on the move again.  Fortunatly the climb moves from the Col to the East Face of Standhardt.  The eastern side of the mountain was sheltered from the wind and gave us some instant relief from the biting cold.  Saying that we never took our belay jackets off for the entire day.  After the initial slab pitches we were able to simul climb easy terrain over to the start of the Exocet Chimney.  

From this point on we were in for a real treat.  The ice chimney was in excellent condition.  Near perfect vertical water ice for 200m.  The only down side was the chimney acts as a natural funnel for a lot of snow and ice falling from the summit ridge.  We were in a constant torrent of falling ice and snow.  Looking up while climbing the lower section of the chimney was almost impossible.  It was simply a case of reach up, swing your ice tool, listen for the sound of a good placement and repeat.  Higher up the chimney widens and the climbing builds to a solid WI5+ crux.  Jono lead this with ease and we were soon climbing the final pitches to the summit mushroom.  

Fortunatly the Standhardt mushroom was in great condition.  We each climbed this one at a time  tagging the summit just after the weather window shut down and the mountain once again decended into cloud, wind, rain and snow.  The descent back to our bivvy site was less than enjoyable but we arrived safely if not soaked though early evening.  Luckily for us the rain stopped the following morning and we managed to dry most of our wet gear in the strong wind.  Packing our day packs and the final gear that didn't dry enough we struggled back down the glacier fighting to stay upright between good gusts of wind.  By mid afternoon we were enjoying cake, coffee and pizza with a few good stouts to wash it all down.  All of us felt pretty lucky to have managed to tag our second summit for the week and get our bodies broken in ready for some more adventures next time the weather clears.  

Jono on crux of Standhardt.jpg

Jono Clarke leading steep ice on the crux of Exocet

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Jono Clarke leading steep ice on the crux of Exocet

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Update 1

A week after leaving NZ we are really pleased that the weather has allowed us a brief trip into the Torre Glacier and our first look at Torre Egger.  All our mountain gear is now stashed in a bivvy rock at Noruegos Bivvy just under Torre Egger and Cerro Torre.  Our first aim of the trip was to get our gear up high on the glacier allowing us to walk in and out from town with light packs when the weather gives us clearances.  In true Patagoina fashion the day we walked all our gear up to the bivvy we had very high winds.  Seeing Jono who weighs in at 93kgs plus a 25kg pack being blown up the glacier was quite an interesting sight!

Dan Tyrolean.jpg

Daniel on the tyrolean traverse heading in for the first load carry up the Torre Glacier.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

Daniel on the tyrolean traverse heading in for the first load carry up the Torre Glacier.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

After a long slog up the glacier with our packs fully loaded we found our first attempt on Torre Egger fairly tiring.  Basically we were a bit slow and inefficient.  Combined with the route we were trying being out of condition with un climbable soft ice covering many of the rock pitches our progress was pretty slow.  Mid morning we pulled the pin on the attempt and rapped back down to the glacier.  Our first look at Torre Egger has left us with no illusions that it will be a hard peak to reach the summit of.  For our next attempt we will focus on a different line.  Hopefully one with better conditions!  We are all excited to give Torre Egger a real go and hopefully now we have recovered from our jet lag and load carrying our next attempt will be a bit more successful.

First Pitch Torre Egger Attempt.jpg

Daniel Joll leading on the East Face of Torre Egger during the teams first day of climbing for the trip. This attempt was cut short mid morning due to falling ice and warm temperatures. This also was our first time testing the new Alpine Series Pursuit packs.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

Daniel Joll leading on the East Face of Torre Egger during the teams first day of climbing for the trip. This attempt was cut short mid morning due to falling ice and warm temperatures. This also was our first time testing the new Alpine Series Pursuit packs.

Creator: 
Steve Fortune

For the following day we choose an objective close to the bivvy which would allow us to make the most of the last short clearance in the weather.  We climbed Rubio Y Azul 350m 6c on Aguja De La Medialuna.  It was nice to stretch the arms and legs after a hard day on Torre Egger, also a bonus to actually complete the climb even though it was just a short outing.  Back down at the bivvy just after lunch we packed our bags and walked the 20km back down the glacier to town for a good feed and rest day.

The weather seems to be showing a small clearance for tomorrow so its back up the glacier and hopefully back onto another climb..........

 

The internet connection is hard to come by here so check out our Facebook page for more photos.  It seems easier to update them there.

Steve final pitch media luna.jpg

Steve Fortune on the final pitch of Medialuna.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Steve Fortune on the final pitch of Medialuna.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Buenos Aires Airport.JPG

From left to right, Daniel, Steve & Jono at Buenos Aires Airport on their way to El Chelten

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

From left to right, Daniel, Steve & Jono at Buenos Aires Airport on their way to El Chelten

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Comments

Submitted by Nick Cradock on

Nice job boys, you're going well. Be good to bag all 3 Torres. Good choice on Torre Egger as a objective ( almost envious). My 2 cents is that if you get 2 Torres take a rest, even if wx fine. Braddock & I made the mistake of not resting in 87 after climbing CT & Fitz. in 3 weeks. We burnt out under west face of TEgger with plenty of time left in the area.

Submitted by daniel.joll on

Cheers Nick, Yes happy with the first week of the trip. We have had a solid week of rest now so everyone is feeling pretty recovered and ready to go. Next weather window doesn't look like a big one, plus we have been receiving a bit of snow and plenty of rime growing on the ridges. Plan at this stage is to head to Cerro Torre and climb some ice with the hope that the next window will see the North Ridges of Herron and Egger ready to climb........??? If your wanting to see a few more pics from the trip here is a link to some of them. You dont need to have a FB acc to view then

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.544380048981972.1073741831.436...

Submitted by Nick Cradock on

Slick. Great team

Submitted by kerk on

Hi Dan, Steve + Jono, congratulations what an awesome effort. The pictures + videos are amazing and inspiring. No doubt, you guys proved to be the strongest mountaineering team in NZ. Keep it up!