December 2010 – Blizzards, snowdrifts, gales, frostbite, snow blindness, buried tents, floods, hardship, cold, sleepless nights. It must be summer then in deepest Patagonia.
This memory was one of the toughest two days of my mountain life. But, it was an experience I wouldn't have wanted to miss!
“One gains nothing worth having on mountains without paying for it; beyond the snowline minor hardships will always be met in a small tent and, the sooner a man is trained to rise above them the better” (W.H Murray, Mountaineering in Scotland)
When things start to go wrong in the mountains, it starts with small, minor things. Like when I had packed my big down gloves in my main rucksack, instead of close to hand. My rucksack was not very accessible as it had a pulk/sledge tied to it. When I wanted to warm my hands up I was faced with a problem. Stop and fiddle around for five minutes whilst everybody else froze, or keep going? I borrowed Kiersten's spare gloves and kept going, it wasn't ideal as my fingers still solidified.
Just been watching the first video of Belgian mountaineer Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll making his solo ascent of the Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia from 5 – 10 February 2021, which he dubbed the Moonwalk Traverse.
This still, taken from Fitzroy summit, is significant for those who have ventured to the Patagonian Icecap with us between 2006 and 2016. The red line shows the 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2014 approaches to the Paso Marconi and the Icecap, the blue line the 2016 alternative approach due to dangerous conditions.
What is amazing is the lack of snow/ice in Feb 2021. I fear we may never return to the conditions that we enjoyed during those years