Tied into a life of adventure.

Patagonia. Leaning towards now.

Cerro Torre enveloped in clouds.

I saw Patagonia for the first time in 2004.  I didn’t own any clothing with the brand name–I actually thought it was a stupid brand that college kids bought to show off, ie. Patagucchi–they are actually an amazing example for sustainable business.  When I went, I was blown away.  The wind and the blue sky made me feel that I was at the end of the world.  I sat, sipping mate in front of a glacier for 8 hours, then spent a few days hiking and admiring the view from just beneath Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre.  One day on a hike to the base of the glaciers flowing from Fitz Roy’s flanks, I saw ski and boot tracks.  I wanted to touch the snow, climb higher and at least camp up there.  Climbing would be ideal, but just touching glacier would satisfy a bit.  I tried to convince my girlfriend of the time, but she reminded me that I was equipped as a day hiker and would need to come back for such an ordeal.  She was also reeling from sunburn.  In my haste to start the hike up, I forgot sunscreen.  Woops…  I pouted, but knew she was right.  It’s for another time.

Ski/Boot tracks up the glacier

I'm right there! I need to at least hike up on the glacier!

I returned to Buenos Aires for another semester of college abroad life.  I started climbing at a gym and after calling a number posted on a message board, was invited on an expedition to the Cordon del Plata to climb Cerro Plata.  I accepted and ran through the diesel-scented streets of Buenos Aires for the weeks preceding the climb.  I was terribly out of shape and went hoping for good altitude luck.   This doesn’t exist. I reached our 15k camp and spent 4 days in a trance of nightmares, dehydration and anxiety.  The altitude kept me down.  I did not summit, nor budge beyond my tent.

Cerro Plata expedition team.

Altitude can hurt

The alpine is still super pretty...

The Cordon is a subrange of the Andes that reaches over 20k, but is just a few miles East of Aconcagua.  In Mendoza, the nearest town to the range, I met climbers prepping for Aconcagua.  I asked about their plans, the logistics and their training and equipment transport.  Many of the climbers were from the States and having lived for a bit in country I knew I could do it better and cheaper than them.  “I can do this”, I thought.  “I just need the right time and enough prep.”

Today while surfing, it occurred to me.  I think that now it’s time.  What if I asked for a sabbatical or leave of absence from my work?  Not for something better with a competitor, not for the complete dedication to the mountains, but for a great, long trip.  I could even do some work for my company while away in the South.  The Bay Area is home, so why not go away for a bit and come home?  There are offices of my company down in Chile and Argentina.  I could work a few days there, do outreach and research, and then go about my way climbing and “sebbaticaling”.  At the worst, I live off of my savings for a bit.  Ok, I lived as a dirtbag on minimum wage with no savings or health care once living in a tent in Yosemite… I know how to cope.  If needed, I could do this again.

So today, I’m not making any commitments, but rather, sketching plans and looking at my finances.  This is what I’ve come up with:

January 15-March 15.

Flights to Santiago: 1100.

Flights to BSAS 1315

Climb Aconcagua.

Head down the W. side through Chile to Puerto Montt.

Take ferry (maybe stop and volunteer at Conservacion Patagonica, http://www.conservacionpatagonica.org)

Eventually cross to Argentina and head to El Chalten of a month of climbing or skiing the S. Patagonian Icecap.

Fly home.

I think this seems like a reasonable loop.  No, I’m not going to quit, sell everything and toss it to the wind.  I could have done that at 23, but not now.  I have too much to love in California.  I’ve built too much.  I know it could seem lame, but it’s just how it is.  However, I need to leave and venture out for a few months, clear my head, challenge myself and gain these magnificent experiences that I dreamt about years ago as I passed through.  Maybe it really is time…


2 responses

  1. Very exciting Steve! Hope your dream comes true for you. Can’t wait to hear about it!

    October 4, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    • Thanks, Mary. Time to do some thinking and we’ll see.

      October 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM

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