I got off the plane and stepped into the customs line. I was brushing the cobwebs off my spanish as I stepped up to the window and started a difficult conversation with the customs lady. All I heard was Hola followed by a string of sounds. The lady immediately looked over my shoulder, signaled another gal who explained a little slower. I my way to the computer at the back of the building to pay the reciprocity tax that apparently exists between the US and Argentina.
Back through the line I found the bus company to change airports for the final flight to El Calafate. I had a much smoother conversation, bought a ticket and headed outside. The driver packed our bags into the trunk like sardines in a can and I noticed a huge cockroach crawling along his shoulder. I stepped forward and tried to look casual as I brushed the thing off, without him even noticing.
After a late night cab right, a booking error with my plane ticket and a 3 hour bus ride, I found myself in El Chalten. The ride in under clear blue skies gave full views of the iconic Patagonian skyline. My mind was working in Spanish much better after a coffee and small chat with the girl next to me on the bus. When we arrived at the bus station in El Chalten I was greeted by friendly faces, a hot sun, and a week of good weather. Joel and Neil Kauffman and I made plans to leave the next morning, but not before we drank a beer and swam in the river for the rest of the never ending afternoon, taking in the long day and the 1030 sunset.
The next morning Planet Kauffman and I headed up to Cerro Pollone so I could be served my first piece of Patagonia on a silver platter with a glass of fine wine.
The next morning we headed to Cerro Pollone where the Kauffmans had a stash of food and gear, and A Fine Piece (V 600m 5.11). Lucky for me the Neil was quick with the camera and we were able to get some excellent photos of each other.
The hike in with some spectacular views -- Photo: Planet Kauffman
Planet Kauffman themselves.
We ran into some friends on the hike in. We might have talked about climbing a little bit...
Base Camp, Cerro Piergiorgio towering behind, Cerro Pollone at the left.
Paso Marconi and the Continental Icecap at Sunset
Me, tired and jet lagged in front of the beast that I came to see and the beast I came to climb. Cerro Piergiorgio at the right, Cerro Pollone at the left with Pollonecito poking through in the middle.
Cerro Pollone and Pollonecito, the route follows the left trending crack system on Pollone.
The roofs and face climbing of the first few wild pitches. The Kauffmans let me loose to have at it. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Joel and Neil find the amazing face traverse.
Getting' it done with Piergiorgio looking on. Photo: Planet Kauffman
I head up my final pitch, a little off width in the mountains does the body good. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Joel takes over the lead.
Which way do we go..
Yeah, the views aren't that bad.
Cerro Torre stands out between Pollonecito and Piergiorgio
I head up some of the final pitches. Neil snaps the photo.
An almost summit, the true Pollone summit is standing behind us. We decided to skip the ridge traverse and start the raps down. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Fitz Roy with its North Pillar standing proud on the left side. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Neil takes it all in.
Taking in the view of Fitz with Piergiorgio in the background. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Starting the rappels down.
I scope which way Neil went as he leads the rappels in the never ending sunset. Photo: Planet Kauffman
Back across the river crossing, and we were nearly home free.
We managed to catch a ride on top of the clown car
Day 3 in Patagonia. I couldn't ask for much more.
Photo: Planet Kauffman
A major thanks to CAMP, Rab, Maxim, Totem, and Raw Revolution for helping to make this happen.