Ohh Man , here we go! The bags are packed and the clock is counting down. We, for last month or so, have been sewing haulbags, repairing tents, altering bivies, and doing a whole lot of duck taping. The preparation for this trip has not been easy- paper work had to be filed, topos gathered and problems had to be solved. The weight, size and overall dimensions of the bags for traveling internationally were a constant burden, and figuring out what goes, what doesn't, what are we forgetting and what have we brought too much of has spun through our minds for the last two months. We have had to modify equipment, replace our scuzzy cameras, upgrade from the old to the new, always with the knowledge that forgetting one little detail could affect so much of our trip.
Here are some important details about just getting started, if you think you are going to “Taste the Paine”.
- Join the American Alpine Club- http://www.americanalpineclub.org/p/salesBy joining the AAC you our given rescuers insurance, which is mandatory to enter/ climb in Torres del Paine National Park. It is also a great community to be apart of.
- Check out Erratic Rock's website- they are the local Hostel and Guide Service. On their website they have a step by step process which needs to be followed for receiving your climbing permit. http://www.erraticrock.com/information/information-articles-1/torres-del-paine-climbing-permits/
- DIFROL (Dirrección de Fronteras y Limites del Estado) –This is the “Pre Permit” to getting the ball rolling. Fill it out!
- Booking your flights- While you seek out your ticket, it is extremely important that you look into the Baggage Fees, Weight limits and Size Limits. To go big walling in Torres del Paine, you need a lot of things, of all different shapes and sizes. It can get quite pricy as well as frustrating. Check with your airlines on the dimensions allowed for a cylindrical bag (haulbag) since it is not the standard rectangular size. You are allowed to bring the climbing rack as carry-on. Leave drill bits, piton and hammers in checked baggage.
- The two main international destinations from the US are Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. Many visitors to the far south, such as Torres del Paine, chose a domestic flight to Punta Arenas or Rio Gallegos. One thing to consider if planning a big trip with lots of baggage, is that you will get charged again for your excess weight...in our case about $500. So, we opted for a 2 day bus ride.
- Be cognizant of where you are going: South America's seasons are reverse of those in the USA, winter is summer, fall is spring, etc. Pesos are used, and it's good to know the exchange rate before you arrive http://www.exchangerate.com/. Spanish is spoken (very different from the Spanish spoken in Mexico).
- Also, be sure to prepare for some fierce weather...the Torres del Paine National Park temps online say between 40-60F, but that is considered without wind (which could reach 100 mph) and the wet. If planning on traveling around Chile or Argentina during your stay, the variations between temperature can be quite vast because of the large land masses of the countries. San Pedro de Atacama, for example, could be in the 100's while Torres are in the 30's!
- Many of the items you will need during your stay can be found in Puerto Natales: internet, skype cafes to call home, good assortment of food, etc. However, bring all of your own climbing and hiking gear, as it can be very expensive to buy/rent down south.
Here are some pictures of the haulbags that we had to create for the up coming expedition as well as the packing nightmare. A simple layout of 2 inch webbing gets the ball rolling
Making a mess!
2 inch webbing all stitched up
If you look at the Walking Axe on the Duffel Bag we have made a bolt-on Dead-man Anchor to use the axe as a shovel or trenching tool
Bottom of the Bag... Clean!
The Whitney Portal Hostel in Lone Pine Ca, has been our staging ground for our trip. Allowing us to sew, make a mess and sleep. They have great rates, employees and the Owner is one hell of Guy.
Organizing, packing and trying to make sense of what to take and what to leave.
This bag, now that is packed and waiting for the plane weighs in at 99lbs. There are going to be some fees on this one!
More Bags and Equipment... Ahhh it is going to be heavy!
Some custom chopped and ground iron. Its heavy, but necessary.
And some good lookin' Hooks.
There is Power Pack in this picture ( the thing that looks like a laptop) we invested in total solar power and rechargeable batteries. Four months in the rocks would require a whole lot of AA's