Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Patagonia, Pack, the Beta from Rolo

February 4, 2009

“You’ll see Frank’s leathery back and his exposed scalp after the 2 hard ice pitches – you’ll know you’ll be on route at that point.” - Rolo
“They climbed this in 1965 – how hard can it be?” – Mark
(Ten minutes later…) “Gary, I’m kind of scared!"  - Mark

It’s 8:33pm in Chalten. Things are kind of collapsing around here suddenly. Time is compressing and there is an unmistakable urgency in the air. First, the weather is good. We saw Fitz Roy from 80 miles away, at least, during the drive from Calafate. It’s huge. While it’s not blue skies we can’t believe we’re arriving with only high clouds. The pressure is rising, precip is forecasted for tomorrow but Friday is looking amazing – little wind, little to no precip, and stable all day. Saturday looks to be slowly denigrating into a typical Patagonia pattern. So, we arrived in town with a rough plan: if the weather will hold, we’re launching for our objective immediately. People have been here for three week and gotten nothing done, so if this is our window, we’re taking it. Quick to mobilize: get a room to stash our gear. Check. Find a reliable weather forecast. Check. Pray that Rolo is here and willing to give some beta. We find him within 15 minutes and he is of course generous. Check! Find our friends Nacho and Majo, drop off the gear we brought them, socialize a bit. Check. Buy some food. Check. Begin to pack. A bigger task than we anticipated, especially since we are trying going so light, but two hours later we get it done. It’s ridiculous how heavy the packs are for what we want, but we’re trying to be conservative. Reminder to self – alpine climbing is never “light.”

Everyone prepares for the big trip differently. Mark puts on a serious face...

...while Gary relaxes with a good book and his ladies panties. To each their own.

The plan: push tomorrow to the base of the route. Bivy at the base. 2am start. The first 1000m done by dawn, the technical climbing begins then. Summit in the afternoon and rap the Franco-Argentine. Down to Paso Superior. Collapse/pseudo bivy. Awake and stagger back to Chalten. If all goes well we’ll be back Saturday morning. Hardly a superstar’s performance but it’s conservative and we’d like to come back in one piece. Haven’t been this excited about a route in a long time. Gary agrees.

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