Monday, January 21, 2008

the patagonia trip: Reboot

Completing the Monzino Route on the North Tower caught us by surprise.  What should we do now?  Dave suggested we relax for a few days, enjoy some hot meals at La Hosteria, then head to El Chalten in Argentina, where there would be more mountains to climb.  I wanted to stay.  We were in position to climb and we might waste valuable clear days if we move before absolutely necessary.

In the evening, the South Africans heard from Dave Turner, the Californian camped high on El Escudo, on the radio, who said good weather was on its way.  "Tomorrow is the day," they said and began planning their summit bid for the South Tower.  They guessed how long it would take them to approach the route, how long to climb and how long to retreat.  They needed to leave at 11pm to make the best of the daylight.  It was 10pm.  I couldn't believe they could rally so quickly after climbing the Central Tower.

As they scurried to prepare, the South Africans strongly encouraged Dave and I to get out there and do something.  It didn't matter that we already completed the only route in the park we thought we had any hope of doing.  When Patagonia gives you a window, you take it.  Soon Dave and I were pouring over the route map for a line on the North Tower called Taller del Sol.  The 13 pitch route contained 2000 feet of vertical climbing rated at our grade limit. Was it appropriate to push our experience so far in such an environment?  We would have scoffed at the notion prior to our success on Monzino.  Now?  When Patagonia gives you a window...

Even though the South Africans say tomorrow is the day, us mortals need another rest day to have a chance.  Tomorrow we'll bring supplies to an advanced basecamp and ready ourselves to climb the next day.  We will have our shot at that summit block and we'll get there by a whole other class of route, straight up the sheer west face to the pointed summit.

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