Friday, December 18, 2009

Supercanaleta memories

Supercanaleta remembered...
the snow and ice you can see is about 1000m,
the route then exits the couliour right onto rock, gaining the ridge, 600m to the TOP of Fitz Roy

The crew on the upper ridge of the Supercanaleta
Joel, Santiago, Luis, Neil, and Jim
Neil, Joel, and Jim
brewing water and waiting..

The Gringos waiting on the upper ridge...

Looking down the Supercanaleta

Jim on the last rappel off the Franco-Argentine route

Relaxin on the Brecca de los Italianos, after rappeling the Franco

Sunset from Piedras Negras

West side: Guillamet, Mermoz, and Fitz
Splitter cracks are on the radar...

A ghost, a bird, what do you see?
The rock towers are...
St. Exuperey, Innominata (little one (relatively)), Poincenot, and Fitz Roy

It's raining in Patagonia. Today is the solstice, which means about 18 hours of light here at -49 degrees south. Conversations have become pretty interesting among the Gringos as we mob between panaderias, restaurants, and houses. This is a necessary phase as the hunger builds and builds until you can no longer contain your energies, then wait some more...maybe there is a climbable weather window coming in a few days, perhaps it will once again change.
The challenge is maintaining the physical ability and mental psyche during the down time. We've been good boys, maybe a Patagonian Christmas present?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bienvenidos El Chalten!!

The West Face of Fitz Roy and Supercanaleta

Me climbing a great ice pitch

The whole crew, traversing out of the couloir

Jim and I climbing a traversing rock pitch high on Fitz Roy

Luis on the ridge with the summit behind

Looking along the ridge at Luis

Jim led an interesting rime chimney on the ridge

Jim leads the final ridge pitch at sunset

Me finishing the ridge terrain

Topping out at 11pm
Jim, Neil, Joel...worked but happy!!

This is the summit of Fitz Roy!!!

Rappelling the Franco with Poincenot behind Jim

Los Hermanos
the Italian Bench is the snowfield on the left, the Franco starts there and takes the left skyline
Supercanaleta climbs the other side of Fitz

The shadows of Fitz Roy and Poincenot

Descending off Paso Superior

The Supercanaleta crew at the Rio Blanco Hut, 1am?

Joel and I are back in El Chalten and the splitter 7-day weather window has just closed on the Fitz/Torre Massifs. No doubt there has been a flurry of activity between here and the Torres del Paine to the south. After 3 full days of travel from the USA, we arrived in this rapidly growing tourist town in Southern Patagonia to an extraordinary scene: perfectly calm blue skies and a stable forcast for the foreseeable future. Our new friend Jim Turner was partnerless and psyched to climb the Supercanaleta route on Fitz Roy, we were psyched to have him on board as another strong ice and mixed climber who has been dialing the skillz living in Ouray, CO.

We spent one day resting in town and getting our gear together, then launched the adventure, taking a taxi to the west side of the Fitz Roy Range. After hiking through lush beech forest along the river, we gained elevation to Paso Cuadrado and entered the snow level under the imposing west face of Fitz Roy. Along the way we met two groups of our Argentine friends also heading to the route, this was definately the time to tag the ¨SuperCouloir¨ as it often melts out quickly during good weather.

We rested at the base for a few hours then started up the snow cone at 1130pm. The climbing was mostly steep snow but fortunately an earlier team had kicked steps in the couloir. We cruised through short steps of ice interspersed with more snow terrrain for a few hours, then got into a rock and mixed ice variation that slowed things down as we roped up. At this point the teams behind us took the easier path and passed, doh! We rejoined them as the route exits the coulior and climbs rock terrain for a few pitches. As one team was moving slowly, we ate food and brewed soup with the Jet-Boil as the sun rose. Re-energized we started climbing again through some awesome rock and great ice pitches! We bottlenecked again and waited for the teams to thin out; we tried passing on a variation to the left but still rejoined the other teams . At this time we had reached the upper ridge of the route where the California route joins. This section has amazingly exposed rock climbing high above the entire ice cap with unreal views of the land of snow, rock, and ice. After more waiting, we finished the ridge terrain and made a short rappel to the upper part of Fitz Roy, truly a trippy place to be as the sun was setting at 10pm! We scrambled over moderate snow and ice for another half hour and found or amigos preparing to bivy in a somewhat protected area near the summit. We tagged the top at around 11pm making our journey upwards close to the 23 hour mark.

So what do we do now? Its dark, we are on top of a giant mountain, and we have never been on the Franco-Argentine route, which is the standard descent off the east side of Fitz. The answer is....put on all yer clothes and bivy near the top of Fitz Roy with no sleeping gear, we had brought a tent fly and had the Jet-Boil, nevertheless, sleep was hard to come by!

We stirred at 7am as the sun hit us, yes! The whole crew went back to the top to revel in our achievement, the weather was still great but seemed to be changing as clouds rolled in off the ice cap. But as everyone knows going up is only half the climb. We were apprehensive about rappelling the Franco, but now had one person who had done the route before. We teamed up and left the top at 8am, the gringos brought up the rear pulling the ropes and delivering to the team in front. It all went pretty smooth and most importantly no stuck ropes! We made it off Fitz Roy and onto the Italian Bench and gathered some energy. A sick place to be!
At this point our friend Manuel¨who lives in town aks Jim ¨How many times have you been to Patagonia?¨Well this is my first time here!¨¨Fuck you!¨A lucky charm??? 5 more rappels brought us onto the glacier, psyched!!!! We hiked through deep snow to Paso Superior, the base camp for this side of the mountain, it was odd to see other climbers after two full days on Fitz Roy. Now its dark again and we are still hiking down, down, down. We made it back to Chalten about 3am and had to celebrate with some cerveza, crazy enough the bar is still open and there´s only two people there! We swill some booze and we´re all totally wiped out, delerious. We make it back to our casita and eat a few eggs, the pass out for a long time. When we wake up, the weather is still splitter!

Today is day four off, and we are feeling strong! However, the weather has temporarily shut down today (finally!), possibly looks okay for the next couple days, so we are heading back to the hills!

Climbing Fitz was an incredible experience none of us will ever forget!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Indian Creek Shots

T Bow on The Inhabitants

Joel finds another OW at Cat Wall

Joel's elbow deep on Rite to Life

Me on Way Rambo

Joel and I are in SLC visiting friends and prepping for four months in Argentina. We fly out tomorrow, Dec. 1 to Buenos Aires are heading straight to El Chalten, Patagonia, home of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Last year on our end-of-the-season climb of Aguja Guillamet with Jon Gleason, we glimpsed the west side of the Fitz Group and beyond to the Continental Ice Cap. This year we are psyched to explore this less traveled zone of the amazing granite mountain range at the edge of the earth. Of course this is Patagonia and all plans are subject to extreme fluctuation based on the reality of THE weather. We'll try to keep y'all up to date on our adventures in the land of the second summer solstice! Hasta leugo...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yosemite Pics

El Capitan-The East Buttress is the shadowed ridge in the foreground

Joel follows an awesome corner on The Moratorium

Joel leads out on the classic traverse, E. Buttress, El Cap

Sunday, November 1, 2009



The main attraction!
Zodiac and the East Buttress in red...

Wanna go climb El Cap?

I lead out on the infamous "Nipple", pitch 10 on Zodiac

Shot from the belay on "the Nipple"

Looking down "the Nipple" pitch

Jacob leading "the Mark of Zorro" pitch 11

Making light of the next pitch wide crack...

That's me... balls deep on the OW and scared!

Jacob leading pitch 15

Go Baby Go!

High on the Cap'n
"please stay dry!!"

Me jugging the final pitch

Pure beauty...

I've looked at the Zodiac line on El Cap for years from the meadow; this October I had the perfect opportunity to climb it, Jacob's partner bailed after the second pitch due to a traffic jam, and I was recruited to finish the climb. What could be better, food, water, and gear already on the Cap'n waiting...Jacob and I spent three nights and four full days on the great mosaic wall that characterizes Zodiac, an 1800' aid climb of moderate difficulty. We topped out the wall Monday eve with clouds brewing on the front of a huge rainstorm, got off just in time! Life on flat ground never felt so good after being religiously clipped to the cliff for 85 hours.

After three days of rest on the Valley floor, I had sufficiently recovered to climb Astro-boy (the first half of Astro-man to the Harding Slot) with Matt Wells. Excellant! However, I soon got the Camp 4 funk and had to sit out a full week of great weather with muscle aches and low energy...lots of time spent in El Cap Meadow watching friends climbing, as good as resting gets!

Somewhere around this point, my long lost hermano showed up ready to climb. We had an awesome day on The Moratorium-East Buttress link-up, lots of rock! After more rest we were psyched on the West Face of El Cap and ready to launch. The route was more than we had expected and ended up bailing on the second pitch after runout face climbing and sparse protection (original 1/4" bolts still rusting in place!)

The Valley scene was starting to wear me out and I longed for wide open spaces with no rules! I'm on the East side of the Sierra relaxing and soaking in hot springs, gathering energy for the exodus across Nevada and to the great desierto of Southern Utah! See y'all there!!!

Thanks to Karl Baba and Tom Evans for their wonderful images!
Check out their websites...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mark Givens Supercanaleta images

Rarely seen view up the Supercanaleta compliments of Rolo.

Looking down.

Before the storm.

Wings are used by aspiring mushroom climbers to gain purchase in the vertical coolwhip.

The crew in Nipo.

February found us shifting from the Torre Valley to the East side of the Range. The weather was marginal and we spent days in Niponino high camp pondering the next move. Meanwhile, Ace and Gary found everything they came for and then some on the Supercanaleta (supercoulour).