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Patagonia (Part IV)One day Patagonia Dreaming, the Next day Climbing

i luv my new toy. Id had been saving it for a special occassion

I luv my new toy.
Id been saving it for a special occasion


I have discovered where the Pro in Procrastination came from. Trad climbers are good at this. Myself being at Pro at Procrastinating, I thought Id better finish this trail of Patagonia Posts. Finishing a trip report is almost like the ending of a good dream. you don’t want it to happen. trying to stretch it out as long as possible.

Watching Pete get ready for his adventure to Peru made me think that Id better finish my trip that I came back from Months ago.

Here we Go!

Planing to plan or planing not to fail.

Patagonia Dreaming Part IV

As always there were plans of plans and then there were the plan and then an idea of a plan. Since we always heard that Patagonia had this fabel condition of having the worst weather in the world. Our intitial expectations were keep minimal, just in case.

If we saw the Mountains, Great. If we got up in the valley, sweet. If we are lucky enough to climb on them, awesome. If we managed to climb on to the top of one Fantastic. etc etc.

Positive thinking with a touch of cynical awareness.

Disapointment is a ratio of  outcome /expectation 

With a fine weather window of  6 or so days we headed up into the mountains again via the Torre Valley. Our packs not that much lighter then before even though we had left gear left up at camp. More food took place of the missing weight.

We had a chance to Practise our Spanish with ever tourist hiker we past. Ola! (Hello) very technical. 🙂

Crossing the Tyrolean we saw a couple of people already on the other side of the river then move quickly on up the trail. This was the first sign of climbing type people we saw. A couple of hours later we meet up with them at a waterfall, about lunch time. This couple we meet a few days earlier at one of the sport climbing crags. It was refreshing that they spoke a kind of English being  North American and Canadian 🙂 Colin Hayley and his partner Sarahwere the only other climbers we saw in the Torre valley our whole trip.

waterfall Picnic

 We basically had the whole place to our selves. Isolated, away from Traffic and Television, reality programs, away from news about the games the clowns in Goverment of any country were playing for our attention while distracting the attention. Our attention was focused on the hiked back up the valley, we skied the scree and walked the nice ice to discover that we had developed a sense of efficency. We knew where we were going and how to get there. So the Patagonian stroll  felt a little better. Especially knowing that we would get a chance to pull on to some famous granite. The air tasted sweeter with every huff and puff. Even the scree looked a little brighter……. A little.

Setting up camp and cooking dinner seamed routine. Eating and staring up at the golden granite.

Wrapped myself up to stay warm ready for more Patagonia dreaming. Game on.


Cerro Torre under a cloud.



The next day we went for a walk up the valley to gather some valuable information. “Where is everything?” Look at possible routes to take to get to the base of the climbs. This will save time in the morning when it will be still dark. Planning ahead.

Our original plans were to climb Aguja  Del ‘S for a warm up.
then maybe Rubio Y Azul on Ajuga Medialuna then a few things on El Mocha.

From the Glacier we could see that they was still a fair bit of snow in the coollar (gulley) up to Ag Del ‘s. And with the temp still being quit low. This route will be in a fair bit of shade and a touch chilly.

We decided that a climb in the sun would be more appealing to us Ausies. So we aimed for the other side of the valley.

The other side of the valley. on Ajuga Medialuna a Rosey looking route called Rubio Azul, (which means Blonde and Blue in Spanish). It should be in the sun. At a rough grade of 6c (23) and 10 Pitches

We got an casual start of 530am wake, 6am walk still undercover of darkness. 730am it got light enough to turn off head our torches. we reached the snow/ ice level in a few hours then strapped on out crampons to access the base of the route. Crawling underneath through an ice cave to gain a ice slope was the first taste that we were in for a different style of adventure. something we dont get in Australia.


DSCF1989The first pitch on Ruby azzullll

A slap in the face, at grade 5( ewbank 16 to 18) easy peasy. Bam! Off width. The guide said cams doubles up to Number 3 Camolots. Lucky we brought a # 4 and my beautiful unused # 6 Black Diamond Camolot.

Dave was lucky and experienced to get the first pitch in the shadey start. He did exceptionly well. Offwidths are a super metaphor for oldschool climbing “there is NO one finger monos here”.


On second I followed him up. no worries. at first then i got out of step. I wasnt sure wether I was rock climbing or danceing the Hokey Pokey.

I put my left foot in

I take my left foot out

Then I put my right foot in and then I shake it all about.

I shemmy up 10 cm. Then I slide back down 5cm.

I shemmy on up another 10 cm.

Then slide back down 5cm

There was one section where I had to

Put my left arm in

Then I put right arm in

And squeeze them together

Offidth wakeup call

Stick my Tongue out

Then A Houchy Cha

A Houchy Cha

A Houchy Cha Cha

A Houchy Couchy Cha.

The lift both legs up

Put them in

Dancing around again on the worlds smallest dance floor that doesn’t have floor.


PS (The Wide Boys are Aliens.)

PHHHHooofffff! fineally squirmed up the first pitch to where Dave was on Belay at and old school belay station of a rusty piton, some scrapy tat and he back it up with a good wire placement.

As dave belayed Vanessa up, I was not trying to think of the solidity of the belay anchor so I started leading up the next pitch, out of sight out of mind. Joining the next two together to speed up the process. Running out of length in the rope I found a atmospheric semi hanging belay in the sun. With 4 to 5 peices of good pro for security.  At sometime as I was leading up; the piton that Dave and Vanessa were hanging on fell out?? ! Lucky he backed it up with a wire. Lucky I didn’t know anything of this as I was climbing up. ‘Thats Alpine climbing.’

Dave headed up next pitch which climbed into a corner into the shade out of the sun. Dave had to knock down icecles stelegtights  in the crack while climbing a slick tricky layback corner crack.

The next pitch lead through patches of snow I had to brush away to find hand holds. Then plow my way through waist  heigh snow to find a suitable place to belay from. Standing in a pair of  Rockclimbing in the snow is a tad chilly so I stood on my backpack while belaying the gang up.

Both Vanessa and Dave lead out the next pitch to a higher ledge in the sun out of the snow.

This positioned us onto the highlight of the climb a 100m beautiful soaring crack. Ranging from hands to finger size on a under vertical granite wall. “Just climb me it said”. Again I was lucky enough to be on the sharp end.

Blonde and blue 1


It was 6pm by the time everyone made it to top of this section of the crack and Vanessa and Dave had already decided that we should start heading down since we don’t really know the way down. A very sensible descision. Some of the descriptions of Rap anchors were in the traditional sense a tad bit fictional. All part of the adventure I’d say. At one point all 3 of us were at a semi hanging belay on one bolt looking thing. Probaly a rivot???? “I volenteer to rap off first again.” I said. The discription of this Rap point was a 50m Rap on Bolted rap stations but Im shore glad we had double 70m ropes to descend with. This point off the single rivot was at least 65m abseil  from an anchor I was trying not to think about. Adventurous ignorence helps to creates happy days.

Out of sight out of mind. Watching the sun hide behind the Fitzroy range.P3180209

Abseiling Landing on snow covered ledges. scrapping away snow to find permanent slings to rap off. The consistently disapearing day light. Jam Pack!

A funny story of this descent was when Dave was absailing down, a screw gate Carabiner undid and the 2 Jumars he had on it fell off him. flying through air I saw where one landed, Free falling in a pile of snow. Soft landing. I saw its  spot. 

We made it down just at dusk arrived. I quickly ran around to get the teams boots and ice axes and walking poles.

And found one of Daves Jumars. Sweet!

Dave was taking a Piss! as you do after surviving an adventures multi pitch Rappell in a foreign land. 

Of all the places TO GO, under the snow was his 2nd Jumar. Now a Yellow Jumar… Ha! 

Descending down the hill in the dark back through the ice cave and slick wet granite slabs to again reach our friend the sea of scree.


Walking down a steep hill of scree is alot more fun then scraping your way up it. Skiing is a helpfull skill to have. Some countries its a sport in itself.

Arriving about 100m meters away from camp, following a creek we thought that would take us back home, we were disorentated. It didn’t look familiar, we were tired and  hungry about 10 or 11 O’clock at night. Then we saw a foot print from this morning, sweet we were not that far away at all from camp. Everything looks different in the dark.

The next day was a rest day. Soaking up the sun and recovering. I went for another recogn mission to familiarise with the tomorrows route on North wall of El Mocho.

Dave had some work duties to take care of. So he went back down to town for a phone conference. And hopefully some more supplies for us. Gas and chocolate were at top of the list.

On the North wall of El Mocho we climbed on Frader-Pisafe 13 pitches, 400 m, 6c+ (23 ish ). 

The first hour and half access was similar to AJUGA MEDIALUNA. Then we had to traverse left accross some slick smooth granite slabs

Vanessa and Jason approach slabs

We had to diverge off the path taken from the previous climbing day and turn left and traverse below the Medialuna Glacier. Walking on a very smooth granite slab. With creeks of water flowing down it from the Ice melt above. Vanessa and I were always aware that if we slipped it would be a slippery dip ride all the way down to the valley floor in several places. It seem fairly straight forward until we got above 20m from the base of the route. There was a large wall of ice guarding the way. The way is shut. The wall initially didn’t seemed that big to me 10 m maybe. (Later we abseiled down it. It was 35m half the climbing rope length.)

I thought maybe solo up rock slab on left cause no gear placments. Ice climbing it would be challenging since it was overhanging like a wave of ice.

So Vanessa went and check out a way through trying to solve a way through the Ice maze. We should know in 10 minutes if it is possible she said!….

20 minutes after not hearing from her yelling out the top of my voice. No response. I start thinking about her falling into a crevas. so I put my harness on. Making a conscious descission not to panick or rush.
Be Quick and be safe follow her foot prints up onto crumbly looking bridges of ice formations that I have never walked on before. ( How many pieces of pizza did I eat the other day. How heavy am I)? Shore enough after 5 mins on the broken up glacier I saw her, she had found a way through the maze of ice.


Traveling through some interesting terrain, bridgeing, traverseing and high steping in Crampons amongst a city grid like feature that just for some reason moans, groans and grumbles, as the hot sun approaches. I was a little unsettled.

ice maze

Once we arrived on the rock surface I almost kissed the solid surface, but I was concearned my lips might stick to its frozen granite.

The line of Frader-Pisafe was obvious. A sawing corner system. Climbing on Rock was going to much more comfortable than sketching out in intimadating creeking  ice corridors.

Vanessa lead the charge on the first couple of pitches.vanessa on pitch 2

Vanessa on pitch 3


Hand jamming, lay backing, bridging from side to side. The climbing was really enjoyable. Unfortunately we thought we would be in the sun. Climbing in a large corner system meant that the Left side of the corner created a consistent shadow. The sun was there close, only a couple of meters away, but not on us. Just teasing us for the first 3-4 pitches. Later in the day the sun layed its rays on us boosting our energy for the implied crux pitches.

Hard climbing for Australians seems to be Jamming cracks ( all sizes) because we don’t have allot of them where as  the crux on this over hanging 6C+ (23) section wasn’t to bad cause it had a couple of crimps on it that us Ausies are quite comfortable with. Plus a bolt for protection which always give climbers super human confidence.

We made it out of the mainline section into the various cracks that meander around somewhere. There were still a hand ful of pitches to go to the top. With the late start on the wall we climbed until 6 ish pm. So it was time to make our way down the same way we came up. Again having lot of faith in interesting looking anchors.

We made it down to the granite slippery dip just on dusk again. with just the right amount of twilight to guide us across the procarious slabs. Then down  the scree. It was much easier to find our way back this time

The next rest day after soaking up some more sun a practising my surfing training, we went up for a look at the access to find Polacos (Polacos is a alternate camping spot) from there what we though might be the route to take up the Coolar to the start of the proper climbing. So we new where we were going in the morning.

Del ‘S

Dave was back with us again. So our trio arose with another early start. We found our way up through the maze of boulders on the Torre Glacier then turned right and up the talus slope. (Also known as rubble or coarse and angular rock fragments … just more Bloody Scree. )Addressing the scree by different names made it seem more interesting, the scree adventure.

Big stuff. Little stuff. Loose scree and not so loose scree. Scree foot steps all taking us up. And up and up and then some more after the first lot of upness. We were gaining allot of elevation. When we came across the snow we saw earlier in the week. This observation that stopped us from trying it earlier. Right decision. There were a few places where I was up to my arm pits in soft mushy snow. I was really over this Alpine / Mountaineering type climbing by this stage. If wasn’t so under it I would of over it.. There was on section that I just punch the snow to make my way up. I think the other two guys must of eaten less pizza and were not falling as far into the depths of snow.

I remember my mood quit well. RRRRPPPppphhhhnnnn. FFFFnnnnnn. RRRRPPphhnnn FFFFpppphhhnn!

and then I made it to the top on the couloir and looked over the other side. Into the other valley. Wow!




Cerro Torre in back ground. Torre Glacier there as well.

Its amazing how quickly your moods can change in the right environments. So I quickly took a photo. Remembering the change of valleys and remembering the change in mood. It sometimes that easy. Dave volunteered  to duck around the snow covered corner to a section of climbable rock.

photo taken from Dave who soloed up the snow and rock filled corner a little.

Dave and I were standing in a pile of snow looking up at the first proper rock climbing pitch. Still in a pair of Mt Boots I climbed up this pitch only armed with a few wires since Vanessa still had the rest of the rack. It is still quit surprising how well you can edge in solid boots. This pitch still felt about grade 18 or 19. This brought us up to the ridge line then cross to the start of some more roped climbing section up to summit.


At the base of this section we knew there were 3 pitches to the top. and 3 people in our crew. Perfect one pitch each. Dave got the ball rolling climbing the arete to start,where the sun meets with the shade in picture. Vanessa climbed middle section on some amazing bright granite and I was lucky on the 3rd pitch on a good twin cracks to jam up. Even had a perfect spot for the number 6 Camolot. It was a dream 3 pitches that finished on a narrow peak just enough for one person to stand on.

Summit glory in Patagonia on Aguja De l’S  (a gu ja -being Spanish for needle / spire) via the Austriaca route from west side.


The Summit of Aguja De l’s is 2330m above sea level. Australias Mt Kosciuszko is 2228m.



Its well known that making it to the top of a Mountain is only half way. Getting down safety is a huge part of climbing up. Abseiling down the last 3 pitches. scramble across to another abseil pitch then back into the Col. Sliding down the snow was allot more fun than fighting a way up it.