So I finally have time to update the blog properly....


We arrived in el Chalten, Patagonia, 2 weeks ago and it's been a real experience so far. The weather out here really is as bad as everyone thinks- wella ctually it doesnt rain too much but the wind in incessant. Makes tent life a bit noisy when there's a gale going on outside. However within a few days we had been up and started stocking our Base Camp which was at the head of the morrain right below Cerro Torre. We never got to see anything though as the clouds envelop the Torres pretty much all the time.


After a week, a two day weather window reared its head and we headed up with the classic Exocet Chimney on Cerro Standhardt as our objective. Having not managed to see anything mountainous yet we decided to get on Exocet just to give us something to get our heads into Patagonian climbing.


Walking into Base Camp was amazing as we got our first glimpse of Cerro Torre from afar and whilst it kept dipping in and out of clouds for the rest of the day we got to sit directly below it and marvel at how amazing it is. You can easily get distracted with the views of the Torres from the glacier floor but on the other side lies Fitz Roy and its satellite peaks. a Huge escarpment of red granite that towers overhead.


Cerro Torre, one bitching looking mountain



A Room with a view....





The Fitz Roy Range


2am and we head off under a half moon. The Torres infront and above us shine red in the moonlight whilst the Fitz Roy massif casts a dark shadow over the glacier at our backs.



On the approach to Cerro Standhardt (just up and right of Will)



1200m of approach on perfect snow and a couple of photos brings us a few hours later to the Col Standhardt. Here we get our first view of the impressively huge Patagonian Ice Cap.


Geared up and we get on with our first taste of Patagonian climbing. Will takes the first block lead and after a couple of memorable pitches we start a long traverse over snow ramps to the base of a really obvious deep chimney that forms the Exocet Chimney.


That day, Exocet proved very popular choice due to the short weather window and we found ourselves surrounded by real Alpinists. The kind of climbers who have combined the European strength of top end climbing technique and ability and the American strength of being a really tough bastard. Makes for a good alpinist. Ahead of us Colin Haley was rope-soloing the route, behind us Bjørn-Eivind Årtun and Robert (second name?). On a route on Cerro Egger to our side was Simon Anthamatten and Michi Lerjen. Surrounded by such strong teams I couldnt help but feel a little privileged to see them all at work- you cant actually comprehend how light and fast these guys are.



On the first pitch of Exocet



The second mixed pitch



Sunrise over Fitz Roy



Heading into the snow ramps, Fitz Roy behind


Snow Ramps...


Approaching the short ice pitch that brings you into the chimney proper, Fitz Roy behind



Short but very wet ice pitch that leads into the Chimney



Short but very wet ice pitch that leads into the Chimney


The meat of thee route starts here with three very long and sustained ice pitches that culminate in a WI6 crux pitch. I'm not sure if it was WI6 but my forearms were exploding by the end of it all and arriving on the summit ridge was incredible.



Myself in the chimney, © Will Sim


Will on the first pitch



Arriving at the belay



Getting stuck into the second pitch, © Will Sim



High up on the third ice pitch, © Will Sim



Will arriving at the belay after the third pitch



Short mixed section before the summit mushroom, © Colin Haley

Still no wind and only a short mixed section and snow traverse would bring us to the base of our first Patagonian Ice Mushroom. The kind of thing you see in alpinist Magazine but was now right in front of us, humbling.


WOW!





Stitch of three shots from the summit ridge


The Mushroom only gets a grade of WI3 so its nice and easy but wow what a summit. Cerro Torre and Egger feel like only a stones throw away and the ice cap covers as far as the eye can see. Looking back towards El Chlaten and it's the opposite with lush greenery and lakes. All in all an amazing place to be right then and maybe one of the best things I've climbed for all round 'wow' factor.



The 'other summit'- Cerro Egger and Torre behind




Will (LHS) and Jon (RHS) on the summit, Cerro Torre and Egger in the background



Summit, Cerro Torre and the Patagonian ice cap