Viva Frey!

Reorganizing, not bivying...
After 8 hours of overnight busing, I was awoken this morning to our the screching halt of our bus refusing to travel any further. I am currently midway between Bariloche, in Northern Patagonia, and El Chalten, in Patagonia sur. However, my friend Scott has his laptop along, so I was able to check email and post some pictures from a week of climbing the granite spires and needles located in two valleys above the refugio (alpine hut) called Frey. Scott and I were up there with my friend Forest, and ran into some other folks we knew as well.

Frey delivered the goods. We experienced 80 degrees days of perfect weather, some Patagonia stormage (on a much-needed rest day) and pitch after pitch of perfection. The (climbing) highlight was when Scott and I linked up perhaps the two best routes in Frey in a day, both on the Torre Principal. We didn't bring cameras along though, and really didn't have much else for that matter either. In all, we climbed 15 pitches of 5.10-5.12 on a shared half-liter of water and one bar each. But the routes were superb. First up was Rolo Garibotti's tribute to a friend (Teo, we don't forget you... or Teo, No Te Olvidarmos) and after this was Sinestro Total. Rolo rates 'Teo' 5 stars (out of 3 possible) and Scott and I agreed, with the phrase "This is the best rock climb in the world" being shouted by both escaladores at least once.

Scott on the variation to Sinfuentes-Weber
'Teo' ascends the South (AKA North, AKA shady, cold, and fully gnar) face of the biggest spire around. We knew it was going to be game-on when the first pitch (graded ~5.8 on the topo) featured an overhanging and leaning thin-hands crack we both called solid 5.10+. And from there things just got better. The final 250' was overhanging granite scoops and huecos, gusts of winds, shouts of exaltation, and the occasional sightings of nearby condors. From atop the West summit, we engineering and scrapped together a rappel to the North, bootying a new cam, several wiregates, and a some slings that we rapped off later. From here, we cruised up Sinestro Total (~9 pitches, 5.10+) and managed to rappel back down to terra firma just as it got dark. Lacking both watches and headlamps, we ended up doing some confused rappelling, with Scott leading a pitch for our stuck rope, and the day's final rappel being made from the webbing belt that I had donned that morning.

Forest taught us a bunch about using tricky light, as here on Aguja M2

Drying our laundry before the storm and snowy/sleety/hail

Each night around the Refugio (wine-selling, dinner-making, merriment-creating alpine hut) we would laugh, hang out with friends, share plans for the next day, and rave about the one which just ended. Also up in Frey were the sweet tunes of Sean Villanueva and Nico Favresse, a couple of world-class musicians who moonlight as 'rock stars'. Nico managed to free an aid roof on the Aguja Frey at lowerish 5.13, and Sean walked a newly-installed highline between two of the vertiginous towers high on the ridge. I'll eventually link to some pictures that my friend Forest took of all the goings-on thereabouts.

And as for now, it is off to El Chalten and more new and exciting adventures.

Buena Suerte familia y amigos!


5 Spires linkup

We're 1-for-3 on attempts at 5-spire linkups. Rocky Mountain National Park was a success, while Cathedral Spires Ridge and Castle Valley resulted in 3 spires each. However, those failures just inspired future attempts, with more daylight and better logistical knowledge of the terrain.

Last week Scott Bennett and I tried the Cathedral Ridge 5-tower linkup (Cynical Pinnacle, Poe Buttress, Sunshine Wall, The Dome, The Bishop). Just 2 weeks out from the year's shortest day, we didn't have time to fit them all in, but I know I want to try again.

Here's a movie Scott made about our day.

  • Wunsch's Dihedral (I lead the .11d/.12a finger crack, Scott linked the overhanging hands and subsequent fingers corner in one 66m lead)
  • Mississippi Half Step (2 pitches, 5.11d, perhaps the Platte's best climb of this length)
  • Regular Route on Sunshine Wall (5.11a) - 5 STELLAR pitches, from overhanging cracks to runout face
  • Equinox Roof on Sunshine Wall - First two pitches (5.10) linked as one
Another 5-spire linkup that would be fun: Liberty Bell, Concord Tower, Lexington Tower, North Early Winter, South Early Winter.

There must be others, but those are really the only ones I can think of.

Nuts and Bolts:

1x70m rope
1x #3 Camalot
1x #2 Camalot
2x Green Alien to #1 Camalot
1x hefty set of wires
 2 pairs of shoes for me (crack climbing ones for wunsch's, face climbing for Half Step)
Days are SHORT in early Jan!