Saturday, February 5, 2011

Patagonia Climbing Adventures :: Día VI & VII

Scott sending the roof on Imaginate, El Campanile.
 January 29

9:00 I awake with a carefully crafted plan to spend today relaxing around el Refugio shooting Sean and Nico slack-lining - and thereby avoodomg the 2+ hour bushwhack/scramble to the adjacent valley to climb el Campanile with Blake and Scott. It's not that I don't like climbing, but having surpassed my expectations yesterday by climbing a 5.10 pitch on M2 (broken hand in tow) as well getting a number of solid shots of the guys climbing, I feel validated in a rest day. 

10:00 Over a breakfast of fried sausage and polenta cakes topped with leftover pasta sauce, Blake and Scott proceed to convince me that, contrary to my suppositions, today is not a valid rest day. Breakfast finished, I begrudgingly shoulder camera gear and straggle out of camp in their all too chipper wake.

16:00 "Validated rest days" be damned! The climbing on el Campanile is incredible. I have invented what may become a new technique in crack climbing. It is called the "cast jam". As the name implies, it consists in me jamming my broken hand into appropriately sized cracks and then using it to lock myself in while I go for the next hold. The only downside is that it requires a fairly specific crack size, and sometimes the "cast" (actually a heavily taped 6'' metal reinforced brace) gets kinda stuck. Also you actually have break your hand so you can get a cast, otherwise it is cheating. In any case, through utilizing this, and other unorthodox techniques I manage to "flash" (climb without falling - top roped) my hardest route to date (4 pitches of 5.10-5.10c), and end up on top of the highest spire in Frey with a view of Argentina surrounding, Chile to the west, and a pair of condors circling in the valley below.

17:00 Fixing a rope and lowering off the anchor at the top, I agree to a final stint "jugging" on what I have by now determined to be a very suspect 3 year old 8mm rope. Hanging in space some 30 stories above the ground, I attempt to perform some Cirque du Soleil moves to keep myself from spinning in the wrong direction as Scott sends the roof on Imaginate. The resulting photos (above/below) leave me whooping and laughing triumphantly!

View from the cave
Obligatory Condor shot
Scott on M2
Blake on M2
Evening boulder session

January 30
13:00  We make a mad dash decent from Frey, fueled by fresh oatmeal cookies from el Refugio, and the prospect of showers, chapstick, and a fresh pair of pants that does not have the crotch ripped out of them. To clarify, I have been wearing the same pair of pants for 8 days - the last 4 of which they have been crotchless due too abusive climbing and hiking on my part. Also, having forgotten chapstick I have been using peanut butter as a delicious but less than stylish substitute to sooth my cracking lips. We make the decent in less than 2 hours, running groups of trekkers off the trail as we scramble across ravines and huck streams in a dirtbag climber rendition of the final scenes of the Last of the Mohicans.

18:00 I part ways (as planned) with Blake and Scott, as they head south in search of more mountains, and I prepare to hole up editing photos for the next week in El Bolson.

Scott - night solos the spire next to camp in this 30 sec exposure.


  1. wow forest. these are great. i like the light painting.

  2. Dude, that condor is sick!!!1

  3. Been there in the same time that you were...
    Don't know if you remember but I've shown you my pics of Sean doing the high line...
    What an amazing place to go and it's so nice to see your (very pro) point of view... For sure, we'll be back next year...
    Enjoy your climbing photographying walking asadoing... trips...