2017 voittajat: Alanin matkaraportti

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Alan Goldbetter palasi jo kotiinsa Suomeen Patagonian ekspeditiolta. Alanin alkuperäiset tavoitteet olivat Fitz Roy, NW Face (1550m 30˚ 6a+) ja Torre Central, W face, Rosso Di Sera (5.11, A3, 700m). Alla raportti reissusta:

Upon arriving in Patagonia it is not the dramatic landscape that first alerts the senses that one is far from home, nor is it the ever-constant companion of the wind. For me, it is always the light. The sunlight that shines across the vast, open grassland seems somehow to always be sharper, stronger, and more direct than in other places of the world. It was under this light, on a cloudless New Year’s day that my primary climbing partner, Tess Ferguson, and I arrived in El Chalten, Argentina. After days of travel and months of preparation, we had returned to the home of the iconic Fitz Roy and Torre Ranges. With a month-long stay ahead of us, we hoped to climb some of the area’s big-mountain routes, including an ascent of Fitz Roy via the Afanassieff Route.

Sunrise illuminates the East Face of Fitz Roy Range.

While we had our chosen objective, having already had the good fortune to visit this area two years prior, we had a solid idea how the climbing game was played. In Patagonia, you don’t often get to choose your objectives, but in a sense, the objective chooses you. The notoriously awful weather that on a normal day can bring winds and storms strong enough to shred tents and physically repel rope teams, dictates your selection wholly. The few periods of climbable weather (termed “weather windows”) tend to be scarce and brief. One must be honest about their own abilities in order to choose an appropriate objective that can be completed in the conditions and time limits that nature sets.

Wind and rain greet Tess Ferguson on the hike into the Torre Range.

During my month in the area I had quite good luck with the weather. Though the weather windows were short (none lasting longer than 48 hours), I had the opportunity to head into the hills four times during my stay. Each mission brought a slightly better understanding of the range, alpine climbing tactics, and my of own climbing abilities. During these times I successfully summited two peaks of the Fitz Roy Range; Guillaumet during the first window, and de l’S, during the last. The second window was spent camping on the Southern Patagonia Ice Field waiting for a break in the clouds that never came. Our goal had been to attempt a new route on the West Face of Bifida, a peak in the Torre Range. The third window involved an attempt of De l’S which saw my partner get to within 40 meters of the summit before wind forced us back down.

Tess climbs the final summit snow slopes on Guillaumet.
Hard times on de l’S. Two pitches before we bailed on our first attempt. Photo by Tess Ferguson

With the month coming to an end, Tess and I departed for our second destination, Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile. Our objective was to climb the Central Tower of Paine via an aid-intensive, bigwall-style route. Having recently completed the Muir Wall route in Yosemite (VI, 5.10, C4), Tess and I hoped to improve upon our bigwall climbing skill sets with the additional challenges of a long approach, more remote location, and a harsher mountain environment.

A cold and beautiful alpine dawn lights up the Torre Range. Central Tower can be seen on the left.

During our twenty days in the Park, the first six were spent carrying our gear from one place to another. With food for nearly a month, equipment for camping, and a bigwall kit (including full aid rack, free climbing equipment, portaledge, haulbag, etc), it took the two of us three round-trip carries to get all the equipment into position.

Hauling loads to the base of the Towers.

Unfortunately for us, the weather proved to be quite awful during our remaining time in the the Park. The following week and a half brought only one break in the bad weather, but coming in on the tail end of a 30cm snowstorm, it was frustratingly impossible for us to use. Even so, we made every effort within reason to climb during our time there. On three different occasions we headed out, but each time we were shut down long before reaching the base of the route. During the down time we tried to stay active by going on reconnaissance missions in search of new climbing potential, but much of our time was still unavoidably spent tent-bound, waiting for an improved forecast. After ten days and with the outlook for the last week of our planned stay looking even worse than the previous weather, we made the hard decision to leave the park and return home early.

About to descend after our third and final attempt to climb in Torres Del Paine. Photo by Tess Ferguson.

A month later, while the sting of the disappointment is slowly beginning to fade, the lessons learned and experiences gained are still fresh in my mind. Every expedition, every attempt, every day spent in the mountains is a stepping stone to future successes. Already plans for the next trip are beginning to take shape, and undoubtedly the experiences from my two months in Patagonia will help to be better prepared, and ultimately have a more fulfilling experience on whatever mountains my future may hold. In closing, I would like to offer my most humble and sincere thank you to the Finnish Alpine Award committee and sponsors for this opportunity.

The majestic Andean Condor flies between the Central and South Tower of Paine.

Kiitos Alanille raportista ja toivotaan parempia säitä seuraavalle reissulle!

Lopuksi vielä lista Finnish Alpine Award yhteistyökumppaneista 2017:
Adventure Partners, Altitude Junkies, Aventura, Camu, Helsinki Adventure Night, La Sportiva Finland, Kiipeilyareena, Partioaitta ja Suomen Alppikerho