Thursday, November 18, 2010

Patagonia Dreamin'

Grapes, rocks, and ice. The simplicity of my recent life has left me with little blogging content and even less time to jot notes about what I've been getting into. But that's all about to change...

On December sixth I leave for Argentine Patagonia for a month of climbing with my good friend Mike Schaefer. This trip is aimed at redemption, as the last time I was down south pneumonia kept me locked in Chalten. A prisoner of my health, I never even touched boot to the approach trail.

To say I've got a fire burning is an understatement. Dreams of Patagonia swirl in my brain and push my training further. Each day, after ten hours of crushing or pressing the fruit of the vine, I slip my shoes on and run into the night. Quiet forests transform into granite giants littered with ice runnels and splitter cracks. Instead of the soft strike of my running shoe on pine needles, I imagine my crampons crunching up a glacier. When I test my fingers and endurance at the local climbing wall I focus my mind on the long pushes ahead, where you climb all day and night, and then keep going.

Home on the beloved training grounds

Working six days a week leaves little time for the mountains, but I have been making use of my one day, testing my mettle against bad weather and crappy conditions. Last week I made my 14th ascent of Dragontail via the NE Coulior and a few days ago Dan Hilden and I climbed to an 8,000 foot saddle between Colchuck and Argonaut's summits. Wind loaded slopes caused us to say no to our original objective, but we still got out and sand-blasted our faces in ferocious winds and blowing snow.

Descending from the Argonaut-Colchuck col in high winds

One more item of note: Anyone who knows me understands that I am NOT a gear head. I climb with simple equipment, always relying on my personal fortitude rather than the latest and greatest. That said, the kind folks at Patagonia ( have provided some incredible layers I have been testing the last few weeks. The Nano Puff Hoody, the Micro Puff Hooded Jacket, the M10 Jacket, and the Alpine Guide pants have redefined comfort for me. Going to Patagonia with the best outerwear is surely confidence inspiring!

Testing the new gear (and myself) against pounding spindrift on D-tail's NE Coulior