Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Patagonia Climbing Adventures :: Día I

El Refugio Frey
January 24

11:00 We arrived yesterday in Buenos Aires. From there we caught another flight to Bariloche (located in northern Patagonia) and spent the night sleeping on a pebble beach on the outskirts of town. We woke to the sound of weed whackers and a beautiful view of the lake and mountains that bookend it to the west and east. 


Today we hop a bus to the trail head, and from there hike on to Frey - where we will set up base camp for the next week's climbing adventures.

Blake and Scott
17:00 Hiking. Sort of. A ravenous covey of flies, spurred into action by my irresistible stench is hot on my trail. We are doing battle. Four hours into a three hour hike and I now find myself face to face with the harsh realization that I am both the lame duck as well as the fat kid on this expedition. Not only am I out of shape, but with a broken hand and a mind and body still befuddled and in the grips of the flu, my current predicament - abandoned by my companions and veritably crawling up the mountain - should come as no surprise. 

Mired in self pity and petty thoughts of murder directed at the flies and the occasional "in shape" passerby, I hit a new low as, sloughing off my pack, I proceed to guiltily stash half a chocolate bar in a convenient nook a few hundred yards up the trail. This inspires me to put the pack back on and even serves to lighten my mood for all of the thirty seconds it takes to devour the loot. 

With the weight of a weeks supply of provisions, climbing, camping and photo gear (and a disproportionate amount of coffee and chocolate) begging me to set my pack down again, my mind strays back in time (aprox. three hours) to when a younger, stronger, more optomistic me had commented blithely to Blake (one of the "in shape" people) that "I would rather pack heavy and have plenty of food, than go hungry!". Ahh the foolishness of youth. At this point I would throw the rest of the food into the ravine below and canabalize another hiker when I get to the top. If only I could devise some sort of trap to snare them - "Hola!" my dark wanderings are cut short by a cheerful greeting. A group of middle aged Argentines have pressed themselves as afar away from my staggering path as they can; motivated laess by politness than by fear that my drunken sailor's walk and ponderous bear of a pack could easily knock them overboard. 
As the trees thin into subalpine terrain, it would be nice to stop and appreciate the view (read: throw up in the bushes) but I am spurred on by the fear of being overtaken again by the not too distant Snookie of a creature with whom I have already exchanged the lead several times. 

Cresting a final ridge my sullen mood is shattered by the sound of a guitar, cheerful laughter, and the bustling jingle of camp life. Desperately trying to hide my fatigue in the presence of my future friends, I up my pace to double shuffel and nearly bowl over the dark haired angle rushing to great me with a cold glass of nectar of the gods (which in retrospect I think was actually apple juice). Unsure of whether I have died and gone to heaven, or arrived in Frey, I shrug off my pack and collapse in welcome relief on the edge of the lake. 

This place is to be my photographic playground for the next week, and what a playground it is... 

Kicking it in the evening and watching other climbers on the Aguja Frey - aka "the Frey TV"
Dentro El Refugio
Dinner en el Refugio


  1. Love it Forest. Once again, great writing complimenting awesome photos:)

  2. Beautiful work Forest. I'd hate to be there if you feel out of shape! Crap, I'd just curl up in the Fetal position halfway to camp. Look foward to seeing more!

  3. Glad I'm not the only one who feels out of shape when I hike with Blake.