Tuesday 18 September 2012

Patagonian Dreams

Skiing steep lines is sometimes in a way like a high jumping competition. If you aim high on things you know you can do, if outer and inner conditions match - then you might walk away with nothing if circumstances are not in your favor.
It’s sometimes a very frustrating game to play, but it’s still one of the games in life I enjoy most playing.
Taking the above mentioned in to account, this last week has been a frustrating week to say the least. First of all it took three days for our baggage to arrive, then I got a cold for two days before we finally were able to walk in to the mountains.
Mighty Cerro Torre
Myself and friend and film maker Bjarne Salén are now in El Chaltén, Argentina, a village situated next to the legendary mountains of Cerro Torre and Fitzroy. On our first try three days ago, we walked in to the Torre valley to check out two of our potential objectives. After seven hours of walking with extremely heavy packs we arrived at the glacier. We put up our tent and woke up to a beautiful day. But looking at the lines from below we realized the approaches to two of the lines we wanted to ski went straight through a massive active serac landscape. The other lines did not have as much snow on them as we would have hoped, and looked like the north face of Aiguille du Plan in Chamonix where the actual ski run is in a labyrinth of seracs. The small and easy lines seemed fine, but we felt like we rather walk back to be ready for the good stuff when we get the chance, than put our time in to things without real attraction.
El Chaltén, Santa Cruz, Argentina
It´s a dangerous game to play with the mind as it’s really scary to let the time pass when we have done nothing. But on the other hand it’s extremely important to be able to trust one’s self to not go and fail with success, meaning that I would do something I know has a risk that does not equal the possible rewards, and then seemingly do something good, when I matter-of-factly know I did something stupid. If you make that a habit, it will be hard to catch a good sleep in the long run, as you know you can’t trust yourself to take safe decisions.
The great thing with everything so far is that we have lots of positive energy flowing and both Bjarne and myself are extremely impressed by the landscape here. In a skier’s point of view nothing seem to have been done in this mountain chain that is one of the most famous for alpine climbing in the world. The catch, though, is that without beta it’s extremely easy to do time consuming mistakes like our first little adventure, and loose the opportunity to do some good ski lines. Time goes fast, and this particular area is not famous for long periods of good weather, on the contrary, looking at friends who have been here on climbing trips, it seems like you have to be satisfied if you get to do one or two good lines per month.
We have almost four more weeks, and we are starting to realize that if we get three good lines, we should be extremely happy. But it’s of course easy to sit here and talk about things we don’t yet have, so that’s why I will also add that I know many who have come here and returned with nothing. And that’s when trying to repeat climbing lines, not discovering new lines for skiing.
Sometimes I wonder why I got in to this game of skiing mountains in the first place. I mean, it’s so easy to give all you have, and then get no rewards in return. From experience I have learnt that I have about a 25% success rate when trying new lines. That’s a lot of turning around, and then if happiness is relative to ones expectations, and I by nature have high expectations – then this is a setup that will breed frustration. On the other hand my memory can recall the enormous joy that have come out of doing turns down snowy mountains when everything have “clicked” and I have managed to fulfill a small dream.
So here we are in the ghost town of El Chaltén, surrounded by warm and friendly locals in love with the mountains and with extremely difficult food conditions for vegetarians (I gave up).  We have another three and a half weeks to explore this area, which means max a handful of small excursions up the mountains with heavy loads. And then maybe, hopefully, if we are lucky, we get to ski a king line. If it were easy it would be called snowboarding… ;) 
Last year at this time I was in further north in South America at the beginning of a much bigger adventure, but still at the start of something. It's funny how life is repeating it self year after year till we are willing to learn. 
Bjarne Salén not yet realizing that we are in El Calafate, Argentina and our ski bags in Madrid, Spain 

Poincenot and Fitzroy early our first morning in El Chaltén

I have been a vegetarian for ten years, but here I just have to eat "the best meat in the world", because that's all there is. :) 

Bjarne walking out of town on our first mission

El Chaltén

My bag...  

The wonderful landscape in the Torre Valley

Bjarne handling the Tyrolean traverse

We went to the glacier and turned around. I was to occupied with the situation to take many photos... 

Cerro Torre and the Adelas


  1. Thank you Andreas for another well written blog! Love the photos :-) savour the rest of your journey there! Fjodor ;)

  2. Guys I wish you the best of luck in the next couple of weeks. I know quiet well El Chalten since am a danish patagon living in Puerto Natales. If you come by here, let me know.... Also if I can help you in any way let me know too... You can look for Pedro Fina En Chalten. He is a skier to and might know some good places....