|Fitz Roy in early morning from Niponino camp.|
Sunny. Warm. Breezy.
Still coughing, been a week. It is not awful but it is not desirable.
Jon Schaffer, Clay Kennedy and I hiked up to Niponino Thursday amidst hanging clouds and snow. The mountains looked wintery--and they were. We made pretty good time on the hike with our more than 40 pound packs, dodging the obscene amount of trekkers and only a minor route finding snafu or two along the way (5 and 1/2 hours).
The homestretch across the last rock strewn glacier, I took a digger in a slushy pot hole. Minor wetness that dropped me onto my knees. Five minutes later I took another digger, this one almost thigh deep. Soaking. I hurried over the last few boulders and plopped down at a sandy bench to change my socks and into my boots. The boys scouted for a prime campsite.
We found a place to nestle the tent between to boulders and the three of us packed in. It was warm enough, the winds subsided and the peaks finally revealed themselves. Cerro Torre staring at us--caked in snow and ice. Full winter conditions. El Mocho was our plan, Todo y Nada was the route. Sounded so good in theory. Upon approaching the following morning the rock sandwiching the steep snow gully was a blanket of white. The top of the gully was teased with spindrift. The 300 feet or so of rounded granite was dripping with ice and water. Dampening my soul. We needed to surmount this 'easy when dry' obstacle to gain access to the gully. My eyes widened as I looked up 1000 feet. My knowledge about climbing drifted into the thin blue air. Clay and I both hesitated. Jon remained cool and composed as we discussed 'bailing.'
Which we did.
The winter conditions had me doubting that I should even be in Patagonia. I don't want to be guided up El Mocho, or any other route. My fears before coming here seem to be true. Last season and the season prior were a little friendlier, warmer, and drier.
Perhaps this is not my place. Perhaps just not yet.
|Approaching, the Torre Valley. Cerro Torre strutting her stuff.|