Monday, April 12, 2010

Patagonia 2010 Part Three!

The majority of the alpine brothers and sisters returned with tales of defeat from the mountains. Our trailer park decided we needed a bit of a blowout to let off steam. We threw a 'gringo trailer trash' asado with the help of Eduardo, our friend and owner of the hostel and trailers.

Segal in gringo trailer trash costume… wait, this was taken weeks before the party!?.
The buzz among the party was of good weather. Everyone was scheming, making plans for the next window. I was unsure of what to do. Hayden was leaving the next day, and I was trying to decide exactly what to do. I had sworn I never wanted to climb the Supercanaleta ever again. We were sideswiped while cruising a pretty moderate route by today's standards, I couldn't help but feel bitter about the experience. As much as I wanted to just let it go, clean my hands of Fitz Roy, I couldn't. I needed to go back.

I didn't have to say much to Hayden before realizing he felt the same way. Immediately, Hayden got on the phone and initiated the painful process of extending an international flight 36 hours before departure. Thankfully, his parents went to bat for him over the phone back in the US. Now all he had to do was borrow enough gear to make up for what he had just sold!

For this try we decided to approach from the north via Paso Quadrado. We would be bringing everything with us this time, intent on summiting and rappelling down the shorter Franco-Argentine route on the other side of the mountain. It was a committing plan, only intensified by the fact we were planning on bringing only one rope. Descending back down the Supercanaleta with one rope would be so brutal, we never considered it an option. We were going up and over the mountain. Inshallah.

We started soloing up the couloir at 2:00 AM, and were at the first pitch of technical climbing before dawn. We climbed swiftly and sure, we wanted the perfect ascent this time.

Goulotting on the second try
HK high on the route
Rime time fun
A very fun pitch near the end of the technical climbing. I only wish this pitch was longer…
Cumbre! Me and HK soak it all in…
My excitement thinking we had it ‘in the bag’ was cut short by the realization that the fun part was now over, and we still had to get down. The summit of Fitz Roy is an intimidating place to be with only one rope.

On top, Hayden and I hugged and screamed into the wind. We had just sent the route in 11 hours ‘schrund to summit! We lingered for a couple minutes and then started to descend. We had very little margin for error on this notoriously tricky descent, but with key beta from our friends Neil and Joel, we nailed every one of the 30-plus rappels. Five or six hours later I rapped over the bergschrund just as it was getting dark. Touching down on the glacier I dug my headamp out of my pack and waited for Hayden. We were elated to climb up and over the mountain in the light of day. Our stove and bivy gear unused.

I had time for one more quick mission before I had to be on the bus out of town. I teamed up with Whit Magro from Bozeman for a lap up Aguja Poincenot. Whit had never been to the top of this cumbre before; I had. It was my first Patagonian summit: Will Stanhope and I endured a three day first ascent epic up the west aspect of the beast. Whit and I decided to climb the standard route up the east side, the famous Whillans-Cochrane (WI3 5.9 M4, 700m).

Whit cruising ropeless up fun mixed ground
Psyched on top! Absolutely bluebird out.
A nod to future projects - I'll be back. Wink, wink…
It was a casual, comfortable day. Whit and I topped out in three hours 'schrund-to-summit. We had tea back at Paso Superior, and boot skied down to Lago de Los Tres in 20 minutes flat. It was a fun route, a perfect end to a great trip. My love affair with this range is not over yet, I already have another trip to the range planned...

Special thanks goes to MEC, an organization never afraid to help small teams complete their dreams in the hills. I am very thankful to have access to all the best gear for these trips, please check out my sponsors' websites, click the links on page right! Thanks also to Petzl USA, for surely they make the finest ice climbing equipment for alpinism.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Patagonia Interlude: Tour de Bloc Western Boulder Regionals!

Sorry for the delay in Patagonia updates... I have been working hard in Vancouver instead of updating my blog. Hard to do both when you are an apathetic writer at the best of times...

I just returned from a long weekend in Kelowna, BC. I was setting and generally helping out for the adult regional bouldering championships being held there. The venue: Beyond the Crux climbing gym, my personal vote for the best gym and climbing training facility in Canada. I always jump at the opportunity to go hang with Mike and April Shannon, owners of the gym. Truly great people, they sure do know how to throw a comp and ensuing party.

Not only did I set, but I MC'ed the final round, busting out my best one-liners as the competitors did battle with the problems. Of note was the outdoor adventure theme. Competitors on the third problem had to literally swing across the gym over a pit of inflatable sharks with lazer beams. To top out number four, climbers had to successfully make Billy Bass the talking fish sing.

A great weekend was had all around. We kidnapped Gary, the thirty-year-old birthday boy, taking him to a surprise party at Mike and Apes'. A bonfire, tractor races, and wood-splitting contests ensued...

I don't think the movie I made last year about Mike ever witnessed widespread release, so I am posting it here. It documents Mike's general amplitude regarding the sport of climbing, and in particular, new bouldering first ascents. The problem, the Pant Pisser, is located in the Kelowna Boulderfields above Mike's place.

The Pant Pisser from Jason Kruk on Vimeo.

The absolutely thrilling recap of my Patagonia trip is coming very soon, I promise!