Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Arrival.

I got off the plane and stepped into the customs line.  I was brushing the cobwebs off my spanish as I stepped up to the window and started a difficult conversation with the customs lady.  All I heard was Hola followed by a string of sounds.  The lady immediately looked over my shoulder, signaled another gal who explained a little slower.  I my way to the computer at the back of the building to pay the reciprocity tax that apparently exists between the US and Argentina.


Back through the line I found the bus company to change airports for the final flight to El Calafate.  I had a much smoother conversation, bought a ticket and headed outside.  The driver packed our bags into the trunk like sardines in a can and I noticed a huge cockroach crawling along his shoulder.  I stepped forward and tried to look casual as I brushed the thing off, without him even noticing.  
After a late night cab right, a booking error with my plane ticket and a 3 hour bus ride, I found myself in El Chalten.  The ride in under clear blue skies gave full views of the iconic Patagonian skyline.  My mind was working in Spanish much better after a coffee and small chat with the girl next to me on the bus.  When we arrived at the bus station in El Chalten I was greeted by friendly faces, a hot sun, and a week of good weather.  Joel and Neil Kauffman and I made plans to leave the next morning, but not before we drank a beer and swam in the river for the rest of the never ending afternoon, taking in the long day and the 1030 sunset.  
The next morning Planet Kauffman and I headed up to Cerro Pollone so I could be served my first piece of Patagonia on a silver platter with a glass of fine wine.
Cerro Pollone

The next morning we headed to Cerro Pollone where the Kauffmans had a stash of food and gear, and A Fine Piece (V 600m 5.11).  Lucky for me the Neil was quick with the camera and we were able to get some excellent photos of each other.

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The hike in with some spectacular views -- Photo: Planet Kauffman
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Planet Kauffman themselves.  

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We ran into some friends on the hike in.  We might have talked about climbing a little bit...

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Base Camp, Cerro Piergiorgio towering behind, Cerro Pollone at the left.

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Paso Marconi and the Continental Icecap at Sunset
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Me, tired and jet lagged in front of the beast that I came to see and the beast I came to climb.  Cerro Piergiorgio at the right, Cerro Pollone at the left with Pollonecito poking through in the middle.
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Cerro Pollone and Pollonecito, the route follows the left trending crack system on Pollone.


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The roofs and face climbing of the first few wild pitches.  The Kauffmans let me loose to have at it.  Photo: Planet Kauffman

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Joel and Neil find the amazing face traverse.
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Getting' it done with Piergiorgio looking on.  Photo: Planet Kauffman
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I head up my final pitch, a little off width in the mountains does the body good.  Photo: Planet Kauffman
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Joel takes over the lead.
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Which way do we go..
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Yeah, the views aren't that bad.
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Cerro Torre stands out between Pollonecito and Piergiorgio

 I head up some of the final pitches.  Neil snaps the photo.
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An almost summit, the true Pollone summit is standing behind us.  We decided to skip the ridge traverse and start the raps down.  Photo: Planet Kauffman

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Fitz Roy with its North Pillar standing proud on the left side.  Photo: Planet Kauffman
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Neil takes it all in. 
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 Taking in the view of Fitz with Piergiorgio in the background.  Photo: Planet Kauffman
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Starting the rappels down.

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I scope which way Neil went as he leads the rappels in the never ending sunset.  Photo: Planet Kauffman

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Back across the river crossing, and we were nearly home free. 
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We managed to catch a ride on top of the clown car
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Day 3 in Patagonia.  I couldn't ask for much more.


A major thanks to CAMP, Rab, Maxim, Totem, and Raw Revolution for helping to make this happen.

1 comment:

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