Beginner's luck in Patagonia - part I | Team Mammut

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beginner's luck in Patagonia - part I

I've had always thought of Patagonia as a far-away magical place that I would never get to visit because of the long travel time and terrible weather.  This past December I rolled the dice and planned a quick two week trip around Christmas and New Years, hoping for the best.  Thankfully my good friend Jared Vilhauer was able to join me on the trip and we had a blast.  He's graciously allowed me to use some of his photos here, thanks for the awesome trip my friend!


Brad Pitt watching over my airport bivy
Fueling up in El Chalten with empanadas and local beer
Jared staying fueled up with delicious dulce de leche cookies
I arrived in El Chalten two days late thanks to some airline hijinks, but rallied the next morning to approach the Torre Valley with Jared.  Powered by leftover empanadas, we spent a night in Niponino, then moved over to the Circo de los Altares. Luckily for us, we were a day off everyone else's schedule and missed the crowds on the Ragni route. 



My first view of the Torre group
Climbing towards Col Standhardt
Our bivy site in the Circo de los Altares
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Panorama of the Circo de los Altares from our bivy site on the Patagonia Icecap
We climbed from the Icecap to the summit of Cerro Torre via Rangi route on December 26th, having the peak all to ourselves on one of the best days I have ever had in the mountains. We descended that same day, spending the darkest hours in a snow cave during a raging rime storm. The next morning we finished the descent to our tent, slept all day, and ate almost all our remaining food. 

Jared leading us towards the Col de la Esperanza
Jared looking down at me while simul-climbing above the Col de la Esperanza
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Standing on top of El Elmo
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Myself leading the headwall pitch
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Jared pulling over the headwall into the sun
Jared leading the final summit mushroom
Myself and Jared on top of Cerro Torre!
Jared on top of Cerro Torre looking out at the Patagonia Icecap
Descending the headwall in a rime storm
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Very happy to be hiding in a snow cave from the raging rime storm outside

Packing up to walk the approximately 20 miles to the road
Almost there...
One more early rally got us out of the tent and 10.5 hours of walking saw us at the road, having traversed part of the Icecap to Paso Marconi, passing through glaciers, moraines, and finally a crazy lush forest. We ran into two of the awesome Giri-Giri boys, Jumbo and Mas, at the road. They had just finished a crazy trip in the Pollone group, doing a massive traverse in horrible conditions. After hitch-hiking back to town, Jared and I arrived 5 days after leaving and had climbed Cerro Torre within a week of leaving home. What a place!!!

Doug Shepherd
Los Alamos, NM