Feliz Navidad from El Chalten, Argentina! Joel and I have been in this small town under the Fitz Roy massif in southern Argentina for nearly two weeks. As the national epicenter for Patagonia trekking, the town has seen many recent developments catering to international tourism; there is a new atm, paved streets, and a bus terminal on the way. It´s always hard to see a small place developing so quickly, however, the tourism industry allows for a high standard of living for the town´s many seasonal residents who operate small panaderias (bakeries) and restaurants, as well as local guide services taking people on glacier treks. Overall the town vibe is warm, friendly, and very positive! There has been no high mountain activity to report on other than our first hike to advanced base camp under Cerro Torre to stash gear about a week ago. We arrived at high camp under full on wind and rain conditions, Vive la Patagonia! Fortunately, El Chalten is on the edge of the mountains and recieves more sun than rain and clouds, however, there is always the viento (wind). Good sport climbing in town as well as a plethora of bouldering keeps us strong and occupied. We´ve also met many new friends in this small community, Argentine and others from all over the World! Our spirits remain high as we await the good weather window; we hope to climb a few smaller towers first, el Mocho, and Media Luna, formations below Cerro Torre. One of our larger objectives is Last Gringos Standing, a superb crack climb put up last year on St. Exuprey...we´ll see what happens. In the mean time we are enjoying the summer here in the southern hemisphere. Last night we had a great time with our Argentine friends who gathered for a traditional asado, a barbeque with pleny of carne and winos! After that we went to an awesome local bar ´Aires Patagonicos´where about a hundred people packed in for dancing and Navidad celebration. The Argentines party hard here and typically don´t start until 2am, lasting until the morning!
Until next time, wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year filled with fun, friends, and great memories! Hasta leugo amigos!!