Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Four Weeks In Patagonia Waiting For Good Weather

They spent a month in El Chalten waiting for a good weather window to climb. When they got it, they had a lot of company.


The block of ice bounced off my helmet hard enough to make my ears ring and make me wonder if I might pass out. My partner Jim and I were climbing an ice-choked chimney high on a mountain called Standhardt. We were several pitches up the chimney, no wider than my shoulders in places, and there was no safe spot to put the belay. We hung a backpack off of an ice screw to block some of the debris funneling down the chute, but mostly all I could do was hold the rope and cower while Jim led up.

Suddenly a rope dropped on Jim's head. Another team of climbers was rappelling down the route, over our heads. At best, this meant gridlock; at worst, a climber-triggered ice fall.

So this is what Patagonia has become, I thought: crowded and overrun by climbers.”

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