Saturday, March 30, 2013

Heading Home!

We are now sitting in Buenos Aires Airport waiting to head home, drinking our last Quilmes Cerveza for awhile. We had some successes, some failures, some close calls, but nothing short of a memorable time. We have seen the country of Uruguay, hanging out on the beaches with the locals and enjoying the tranquil, slow moving atmosphere of Punta del Diablo. Brazil for a day with a quick border hop. Argentina has been our main transfer station. Then there is Chile... home of the giant rock walls and wild weather, a place with locals that you won't forget and friends that you look forward to seeing.

We have many friends and family to thank for our first international expedition: To my folks and Amy's folks, thank you so much for the support and help! Our bosses Doug, Earlene and Dougie of the Whitney Portal Store- thank you for employing our sorry asses and allowing us to use your "home" the Hostel as base camp. Trango climbing equipment, Elevation, Mammoth Mountaineering Gear Exchange, and Rab for giving us a chance and the tools. Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales for allowing us to loiter around the Hostel when the weather was poor. To Justin and Trisha Hall, Ruth from Holland, Billy the Kid, the House Mother Julie, Big Paulie and his older brother Bill, as well as Rustyn, thank you so much for always making sure we had what we needed, when we needed it, and always leaving us with a smile on our faces... Dirty B. hope to see you around! Pedro the Spaniard, and last but definitely not least, Nico, the local Chilean climber. This guy is as strong as bull and an awesome person. His donation of a rope for our Central Tower Project was huge!!! If you are ever in the Torres look up Nico and friend Thomas, both great guys and friends. We also need to say thank you to the American Alpine Club for the help received with The Mountain Fellowship Grant. And, finally our family of guadalaparques for their support, company, and fresh baked bread!

Here's some photos...

Edit: We have landed! We are home!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pasamientos en el Torre (written by Amy Ness waiting for our escape)

Disappointment, yes, there is some of that. We've sat in a portaledge bombarded with snow for a whole week now. Everything was going to plan before...we were just a little worried about our water supply; 3.75 gallons would not suffice. We had counted on a storm, nothing major, just a few days so we could refill our water jugs and continue onward. Everyday we would get our hopes up, then late afternoon would give us just enough clarity to keep us pinned to the ledge. "Tomorrow is going to be clear," we would say crawling into our sleeping bags under a starry sky. Then, in the wee hours of the morning the pitter-patter of snow on the rain fly would begin, anew. We were one pitch from the corner, having done 10 new pitches out of twelve on great granite to get to this point. We began with 20 days of food and 70 lbs of water to allow us the time to free-climb the Central Tower of Paine. But here we sit again, day 7 of storms, resolving to go down when we get a break in the weather. March is too late. Even if we get clear skies in a few days, the chance of it giving us enough time to not only get up, but establish a free variation and let's not forget, get down safely, does not seem likely. Yesterday during our few hours of sunlight, the first we'd had in 6 days, we experienced the fear of being a "sitting duck" as snow and ice cascaded down onto our ledge. How we wished we were under a roof! We battled to get on this wall, more so than any of our previous endeavors...which is probably what drove us to sit in a 3X6 space of battered, patched rainfly material during the worst storm we've seen in Patagonia, yet. A week. An entire 7 days of just sitting here and it is still snowing! We will come back. Even now, we sit wondering how to save the funds to allow us another chance. Central Tower, one. Moser-Ness, zero.

This was written during one of many moments of clarity and self pity in the portaledge... Now we sit, eating chocolate and drinking the last of our Chilean wine, waiting for our flight home in a few days. We are excited to be out of the park; three months was too long and March was too late. We can't wait to get back to the Sierra granite and sunny Californian days, but we will return for the Central Tower, we have a vendetta to take care of!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Central Tower, Torres del Paine Patagonia. Going for a wander and a battle

Well, the wall beat us back on this one. We meandered, wandered and explored the Tower for five great days. We climbed 12 new pitches up the Central Tower at a very moderate grade with great protection. We had 20 days worth of food and 70lbs of water in tow.

At the end of day five we established our High Camp... Camp III, which was about 1,500 feet off of the glacier when the storm hit. For eight days we sat in our six foot by three foot portaledge getting slammed by the weather. We had plenty of time and supplies to wait, but we were slowly loosing the battle. By day twelve of being on the wall we woke and tossed the bags, we could not afford another storm. If caught higher on the wall, we could have a problem.

After gathering our items from under the wall and high-tailing it to our Base Camp, the weather, true to form, changed and laughed at us for five days, while the Tower basked in the sun.
( Amy has the full story written out from when the event was taking place, but we accidentally left it in the tent. We'll post later)

We now have just a few weeks left in the park, so for our last ditch effort we are putting everything into the South Tower. Light and fast with terrible weather... Good time!