Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Season Ends & Another Begins

Mate Che?

Patagonia has been pretty great to me this season! I have heard from others that climbing peaks is a rarity and getting students on glacier is a close second. Fortunately this year the courses and personal adventures I have been on had good weather windows and climbing and glacier travel was available to us. And this final adventure of the Patagonia NOLS season was a standout in true Aysen fashion!

First day in the alpine classroom!  
Yeah Bud, Daren loving life!
Kai enjoying some reading.
Life couldn't be much better!

It started with 2 days of sunny weather that soon turned to off and on rain for about 10 days as we travelled from Laguna Tranquilo up Rio Norte into the alpine and dropping back into another valley (estero perez) and then back up into the alpine and down into Rio El Engano.

Up on a high point.

When we arrived an Campo Los Banos we were treated with an amazing cultural experience from Don Manolo and Senora Rosa. We had an lamb Asado with pedre, sopapias and ensalada..... so good!

Don Manolo preparing the Lamb
Skinning the Lamb
Hanging before Asado.
Traditional Asado in Aysen Patagonia
Senora Rosa making sopapias
Haley and Senora Rosa working the dough

From Los Banos we headed up into the alpine. Our first day of travel to get to the base of our ridge was nice and sunny and rejuvenated all of us.

The crew!

Betsy and Don Manolo at a puesto where we got some of our food horse-packed to

Once we organized our food and mountain gear we started the move up. It was wet and didn't let up for 6 days... rain, rain, rain, some snow and a bit of wind.... classic Patagonia. The students learned the meaning of patients and hunkering to get the window to move up on a glacier in Patagonia.

Looking east down Rio El Engano

When the weather had a small break we moved from the trees into the alpine and started getting more skills out so we could traverse be ready to traverse Cordon Colmillo. Fortunately the weather broke and we started into it.

Day 1 on the glacier had use head up and scout our route. There was a lot of rock and glacier transitions which allowed for a steep and safe learning curve for the students.

Kai leading the first day on glacier
Colmillo on the right and unnamed peaks to the west(left).

Day 2 had use push the route all the way across so if we got hit be weather we had a straight forward exit down to Rio El Magin.

Amy explaining the route to the other groups, with Colmillo in the distance (centre).

Day 3 was climbing day! Daren Opeka and I headed with 5 students and Felipe V. to attempt Cerro Colmillo with Betsy Winston and Kai Girard heading to a large peak that had a large glaciated approach.
Daren, Felipe and I along with the students got on top of Colmillo at around 4pm. The route we climbed could very well be a first ascent Northeast Ridge 5.4 110m PD. Thanks to Alex, Evan, Parker, Jan and Nano for a fun day of climbing! Also Betsy and Kai had there group reach the summit of a peak we called Nieve Grande. Overall a successful day of climbing.

Colmillo, we climbing the right hand ridge in this photo.
Summit of Nieve Grande! Patagonia Sins Represas

Day 4 Kai and I got up early and went for Colmillo's NE Ridge for some fun instructor development. We left camp at 5am and got back at 7:55am for breakfast..... super fun!! As the day progressed the weather moved in and we started to get rain then snow and for the next couple  days, 5 & 6 we were tent bound.

Day 7 opened and the weather let up so we headed out for some ice/rock climbing and fixed rope ascension.... which turned out to be a highlight for a large number of the group.

Skills classroom.

The next day we ran like chickens from the coming weather and bushwacked hard down to the valley. At this point the students where travelling independent of instructors.

For the next 6 days we organized group gear and gave the students the remaining tools needed for multi-day travel without instructors and then embarked on 4 days of fun. We had some full on mean bush.... quiet possibly the most punishing bushwacking I have been in and came across some hot springs on the way our. Finally meeting up with the students at our pick up spot. They were full of smiles and had amazing experiences!

Sunset looking west from camp

This semester had everything 23 days of rain/snow, 6 days of full sun, mean bush, and a very special cultural experience. Thanks to all the students, Alex, Evan, Abbe, Haley, Chloe, Amy, Chris, Gab, Boris, McKail, Parker, Tucker, Dan, Jesse, Chino, Nano and Jan, for performing at a tremendous level and the I-team, Betsy Winston, Kai Girard, Daren Opeka, and Felipe V, for being dedicated to educating!
How could you not come back to this?
See you in September 2012 Aysen Patagonia when I came for some more adventures!
Thanks Betsy Winston for all the photos!

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