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Patagonia Expedition 2015

Updated: May 2, 2023




New Zealand Alpine Team Expedition

Cerro Torre & Torre Egger 10th November ? 20th December 2015

Team members

Jono Clarke, Daniel Joll, Steve Fortune

For a video of the trip check out https://youtu.be/JzUyIJDHgCI

Patagonia 2015 the first three weeks. Ascents of El Mocho, St Exupery and Guillaumet. – Update by Daniel Joll

10 years ago I made my first trip to Patagonia. At the time we climbed the North Tower of Paine, then moved over to the Fitz Roy region and climbed the Brenna Ridge on Guillaumet. We climbed the ridge only and didn?t continue onto the summit due to not having crampons or an ice axe with us, having left these half way down the ridge finding our pack to heavy to lead with. The guy I was climbing with refused to second with a pack so I was forced to lead with it. After a couple of pitches it got to much and I left it behind. It was full of bivy gear, boots, crampons and ice axes. At the time the Brenna ridge ascent took us 3 days. One to approach, one to climb and descend the ridge with another day to walk back over to Paso Superioer and down to Rio Blanco. It felt like a real adventure. At the time I could not have conceived how I would one day repeat this route.

Skip forward ten years and Steve Fortune, Jono Clarke and myself are currently three weeks into a five week trip to Patagonia. The trip has been going well with one attempt on the West Face of Cerro Torre where tough conditions on the mushroom pitches turned us around, followed up with successful ascents of El Mocho via, Voie Des Benditiers and Saint Exupery via Chiaro Di Luna. Much has changed but the major difference to ten years ago is I am now climbing with good friends who know their craft. No more trips with random strangers. Our plan to bring a group of skilled climbers together through the NZ Alpine team is starting to pay dividends with many of the guys upping their skills through regular climbing with each other. This in turn forms stronger friendships and more efficient climbing partnerships leading to more successful ascents.

Two days ago during a short window of nice weather Steve Fortune and myself took the opportunity to go back to the Brenna Ridge and this time climb to the summit of Guillaumet. It was interesting to re live the experience of ten years ago. What was once a great adventure was now a simple half day trip from town! We hiked in from the road early in the morning reaching the base of the route in good time. Roping up we simu climbed the 500 odd meters of rock climbing with difficulties up to 6b or grade 20 in NZ grading. Arriving at the crux pitch I recalled the memory of struggling to jam my way up the right leaning hand crack 10 years before. This time I only carried a few cams and a handful of nuts. I arrived at the top of the 50m pitch not even placing any of my hand sized cams. Its funny what the passage of time does. Back then the pitch felt sand bagged and desperate. This time it felt relaxed and enjoyable requiring just a few pieces of protection placed more out of habit rather than necessity. It was nice to feel the improvement that experience brings. Steve and myself arrived at the summit in under three hours and were back at the road end approx 13 hours after starting. It was the second time I have day tripped a Patagonian peak from town. However the first time it has taken less than 24 hours. My last outing with Owen Davis the year before took us around 35 hours to climb Rafael in a town to town push. To put some context into day tripping a peak from town it usually involves between 20-40km of walking and over 2000 vertical meters of ascent. For the climb of Guillaumet we spent move of our time walking in and out but this was due to the fact we could move quickly across the technical part of the route.

With two weeks left to go Jono, Steve and myself will hopefully get one or two more opportunities to climb something in the mountains of Patagonia before heading home. However with Patagonian weather you never know. Our main objective for the trip an ascent of Torre Egger still awaits. Conditions have improved on our chosen route and we have our gear in place near the base of the climb ready to go in the next fine spell.




Five weeks of climbing based in El Chalten with Jono Clarke, Daniel Joll & Steve Fortune. Check out… Posted by New Zealand Alpine Team on Monday, November 9, 2015

Sponsors

Macpac (clothing, packs, sleeping bags and tents), Jetboil (cooking stoves), Tendon Ropes, Gu Energy, Salewa footwear. Financial support for this expedition has also come from the NZ Alpine Team and the NZAC Expedition Fund.

ObjectivesAscents of the East Face of Torre Egger and Corkscrew on the SE Ridge of Cerro Torre,

Tactics

El Chalten is now an established town with accommodation, climbing shops, groceries, and restaurants. There is wifi and internet cafes, and weather forecasting is available (see www.pataclimb.com/knowledge/cheltenweather.html). The weather is general poor in the mountains, with short clearances in which to climb. It makes sense to stay in comfort in El Chalten, watch the forecast and move quickly on an objective once the weather starts to clear. To make this easier, you can stash your climbing equipment at a high bivvy site (eg Noruegos or Passo Superior) and walk in lighter. So tactically it?s good to have multiple objectives accessed from this single base. For this expedition we will be basing our gear stash under the East Face of Cerro Torre at Noruegos a small rock bivy on the edge of the glacier. This is a great spot to access the SE Ridge of Cerro Torre and the East Face of Torre Egger.

Climbing

A mix of free climbing, ice climbing and aid climbing. The routes we are aiming for on this trip will require a wide range of climbing skills and approaches. Everything from short fixing, simul climbing, soloing and regular pitched climbing.

Travel Tips for Argentina

At the time of travel the official exchange rate was around 12 Peso – 1 USD. Black market rates were between 13 – 14 Peso per 1 USD

In Buenos Aires we stay at a great hostel the Che Lulu Guesthouse. This is located in the Palermo district. www.chelulu.com orinfo@chelulu.com

Or if your looking for a moderately priced hotel, Hotel Bauen http://www.bauenhotel.com.ar/ a room with breakfast was around $50 NZD for the night or 440 peso. Central and clean.

In El Chalten we spend our time at Hostel Aylen Aike. This is one of the best hostels in Chalten if your a climber. Sabestian the owner keeps a very clean and tidy hostel, plus he is a climber and really goes out of his way to look after the visiting climbers. You will find other teams from all over the world here and its a great place to spend your bad weather days next to the fire with a bottle of wine from his collection. You can contact Sabestian via fb or email. Its good to book ahead if you have a big team. You can find Aylen Aike on FB and its good to book in advance if you want to stay in the climbers room or as Sebestian likes to call it the “Mother Fuckers Room” A five week stay cost approx 625 USD

If your looking for the best steak house in Palermo or for that matter one of the best in Buenos Aires dont forget to check out La Cabrera http://www.parrillalacabrera.com.ar/ you can book online.

Taxi’s will usually rip you off if you give them the chance in Buenos Aires, we have fallen for most of the common scams ie no meter running and then on arrival they demand a huge fee our worst a 500 peso bill for a short ride from the airport to our hotel. So check that the taxi is a proper on i.e radio taxi, check they have a working meter and make sure it is on.

Gear List

The Gear List has been made up for a three man team with the plan of climbing a mix of rock and ice routes.

For this trip we are staying in town with our gear stashed under our planned objectives.

Climbing Food:

  1. Boil in a bag meals, 6 double size meals per person

  2. Gu Shots x 40 per person

  3. Gu Chomps 20 packets per person

  4. Power Bars x 30 per person make sure they are ones that don’t freeze to easily

  5. Gu Brew Tabs x 50 per person

This will give us enough climbing food for two ? three full attempts, 20 ? 60 hours each. For any one day attempts where we are just learning the route etc or making the most of a short weather window we will use other food from town. As of the 2014 season there was little good climbing specific food available to buy in town, you can however get a most other food there including things like instant mash for taking on the mountain.

Equipment:

Climbing:

  1. 2 x 9.7mm 60m rope for jummaring and short fixing. We use Tendon Master Ropes 9.7mm ropes

  2. 2 x half ropes 60m. We use Tendon Master Half Ropes

  3. 1 x cragging rope for town 60m is fine.

  4. 12x quickdraws for town cragging.

  5. 20m of 6mm prussic cord for fixing anchors. You can buy cord in town but it is expensive.

  6. Main climbing crampons for ice climbing

  7. 1 x light weight aluminium alpine climbing crampon

  8. 2 x ice axe and or mixed climbing tools per person with hammers

  9. 1 x light weight walking axe

  10. 1 x small file for sharpening crampons / picks

  11. 1 x spare pick for ice tools.

  12. 1 x allen key or spanner for tightening axes

  13. 1 x travel bag for crampons

  14. 12 light weight 60cm extendable quick draws

  15. 2 x 120cm light weight spectra sewn sling

  16. Pitons (approx 6, 3 each of knife blades and angles)

  17. 2 x auto locking screw gate style biners for atc and fixing anchors per person.

  18. 2 x light weight screw gates per person

  19. 5 x old snap locks per person for leaving on abseils on the route.

  20. 1 x atc guide style belay device per person

  21. 2 x jummars

  22. 2 x daisy chain or safety sling per person small spectra style light ones

  23. 2 x alpine light weight etrier per person (or foot loops for 2nds)

  24. 1 x helmet per person light under 400g

  25. 1 x climbing harness per person (needs to weigh less than 350g)

  26. 1 x climbing harness for cragging in town

  27. 2 x sets of wires number 1 ? 8 + 1 set rps & offsets

  28. Triple set of cams 0-4 camalots (this allows us to have gear stashed in two seperate climbing locations)

  29. 1 x light weight biner per cam

  30. 12 x ice screws for team, 2 long, 8 med 2 short, Petzl light weight screws

  31. Ice screw sharpener

  32. 1 x V threader per person

  33. Umbilicales for attaching ice axes to harness

  34. Ice Clippers for harness

  35. Ice axe wings

  36. 2 x snow pickets

  37. 3 yates screamers

  38. 1 x chalk bag per person

  39. 1 x spare pot of chalk

  40. Crack climbing gloves.

  41. 1 x sky hook + 1 x talon + 1 x copperhead

  42. 1 x fifi hook per person

  43. 2 x light weight alpine aiders

  44. 2 x grigri. Adapted for self belay

  45. 3 x tibloc

  46. 1 x micro traction

  47. 1 x monical or similar binoculars [optional]

Route bivvy gear:

  1. 1 x shovel (light weight) [optional]

  2. 1 x double bivvy bag (Macpac prototype), 1 x single bivy bag Macpac Alpine Cocoon

  3. 2 x double sleeping bag one winter weight and one summer weight (Macpac prototypes)

  4. Bothy Bag 3 person Rab Sil Bothy

  5. Mat (3/4 Z rest with clip in point)

  6. 2 x 120L Macpac Duffle bags for travel

  7. 1 x 35 – 45 L climbing pack (under 600g) NZAT Macpac Pursuit 40

  8. 1 x 1L water bottle per person

  9. 2 x 1L bladders per person

  10. 1 x 1.5L piss bottle

  11. 1 x 10L water bladder

  12. 1 x pen + notebook per person

  13. 1 Jetboil 800ml variety (Gas bought in El Chalten)

  14. 1 spoon per person

  15. Drybags for gear at least five large ones per person. (and stashing kit at high bivvy sites)

  16. Sat Phone is handy for getting up to date forecasts while away in the mountains and emergencies. You can now get txt message forecasts direct to your sat phone from NOA.

  17. Adapted Macpac Olympus Tent fly no inner. We had the sides of this extended so that they all reach the ground with snow flaps. We use this at our rock bivy for shelter in bad weather. We leave the inner behind to save weight.

Town gear:

  1. 1 x leatherman multi tool per two people

  2. 1 x light climbing knife i.e. petzl knife that can attach to harness one per person

  3. 1 x long flexible drinking straw per person for use on route and glaciers each person, 30cm or longer.

  4. Lighters, gas, soap, other cooking supplies can be brought in town.

  5. 1 x silk sleeping bag liner per person

  6. 1 x small dry bag for top of pack per person

  7. Stuff sack for organising clothing or a Macpac cram sack

Footwear:

  1. 1 x alpine boot mid weight. Good for ice climbing but light enough to take on rock climbs. Salewa Pro Series

  2. 1 x pair jandles per person

  3. 1 x running or town shoe

  4. 1 x pair approach shoes per person Salewa Mtn Trainer

  5. 1 x spare laces for climbing boots per person

  6. 1 x tight fitting rock shoe per person for sport climbing in town.

  7. 2 x climbing shoe that can fit a mid weight sock snugly per person. Taking two pairs of mountain rock shoes is so you have have two fully stocked stashes in different parts of the mountain range.

  8. 1 x spare laces for climbing shoe per person

  9. Lube for boot zippers

  10. Wax or waterproof boots before departure

  11. Walking poles

Clothing: (all items for each person)

  1. 1 x Pro Thermal Leggings Macpac

  2. 1 x Pro Thermal Hoody Macpac

  3. 1 x Fitz Roy Soft Shell Pants

  4. 1 x Fitz Roy Soft Shell Jacket

  5. 6 x sports style underwear

  6. 2 x mid weight sock Macpac Tech Ski Socks

  7. 2 x thin sock (running, approach walks) Macpac Fast Hiker Sock

  8. 1 x thick sock (Bivvy’s) Macpac Expedition Sock

  9. 1 x travel sock

  10. 1 x Macpac Sonic Windshirt

  11. 1 x Macpac Energy Fleece

  12. 1 x Macpac Supanova light weight down jacket

  13. 2 x Macpac Dash gloves

  14. 2 x Macpac Stretch Fleece gloves

  15. 1 x waterproof shell to go over the wind stopper gloves if it starts to rain.

  16. 2 x warm water proof gloves Macpac Powder glove

  17. 1 x warm mitt is useful if going early season and doing ice routes.

  18. 1 x pair of light walking pants Macpac Trecker Pants

  19. 1 x causal travel pants

  20. 2 x tee shirts causal

  21. 1 x small travel towel

  22. 1 x sun hat with neck protection

  23. 2 x sun glasses with neck strap and cleaning case, nose cover could be useful

  24. 1 x snow googles

  25. 1 x thin thermol balaclava

  26. 1 x face mask

  27. 2 x short sleeve thermal shirt / sports top Macpac Warp range

  28. 2 x long sleeve thermal shirt / sports top Macpac Warp range

  29. 1 x silk or non cotton long sleeve shirt for climbing on hot days / approach walks, not for use on actual route

  30. 1 x synthetic Macpac Pulsar Jacket

  31. 1 x light weight rain coat, Macpac prototype

  32. 1 x light weight rain pants Macpac prototype

  33. Shoe Gu for shoe repair

  34. Aqua seal for clothing repair

  35. Bees wax for keeping gloves and boots waterproof

  36. Sewing kit

  37. Shorts

  38. In town warm jacket/fleece. Macpac Mountain Hoody Fleece It often ends up that you leave all your climbing gear at a high camp so its good to have a spare fleece and something like a wind shirt as spare tops for walk ins and spending time in town

General Equipment: (for each individual person)

  1. 1 x medium size tube of sun block

  2. 1 x re usable mini sun block case

  3. 1 x lip balm with sting so it can hang around your neck

  4. Baby wipes as many as you feel you need (these can be purchased in El Chalten if space is tight when packing)

  5. 1 x personal first aid kit, you can buy basic pain medication in town, however bring any specific strong pain medication you think might be necessary plus general antibiotic.

  6. 1 x small bottle of detol / hand sanitiser

  7. 2 x rolls of dental floss

  8. 1 x tooth paste

  9. 1 x small tooth brush

  10. 1 x tube of mouth ulcer gel

  11. 1 x tube of canastine style unti fungle cream

  12. 1 x small travel alarm clock

  13. 1 x alpine climbing watch with altitude and barometer (need 1 between 2 minimum)

  14. 1 x compass

  15. 1 x area topo map (can buy El Chalten)

  16. 2 x head lamps and 2 sets of spare batteries

  17. 1 x digital camera + spare memory card if required

  18. Charger for digital camera

  19. Spare camera batteries and memory cards

  20. Spare batteries watch

  21. Spare batteries travel alarm

  22. Personal toiletries

  23. Vitamin supplements

  24. No power adaptors needed for Argentina as they use the same three pin plug as NZ.

  25. Eye patch & ear plugs for bivvys

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