Going for a grand opportunity: Fitz Roy
Today high winds and periodic showers have blown through El Chalten. The weather is supposed to be bad for the next few days with a weather window opening up this weekend.
I had envisioned spending today through the rest of the week on a long backpack through the southern portion of the park, out past Cerro Torre, over Paso del Viento and back along the side of the Viedma Glacier and the shore of Lake Viedma.
Yesterday my plans changed drastically for my last week alone here in Patagonia. During breakfast yesterday, my friend from Spain, Pep, asked if I wanted to head up this weekend to try a route on Fitz Roy. I was blown away at the idea, but also humbled. Fitz is a serious mountain and it would be by far the largest, most difficult climb of my life. After thinking and many conversations with Pep about safety, my experience and expectations for an ascent, I decided to spend the rest of my time preparing and possibly ascending the Supercanaleta on Cerro Fitz Roy.
Over the next few days, I’ll be learning aid climbing techniques, brushing up on efficiency at belays and handing off gear. The climb will likely take three or four days and require a few high, cold bivys, then a long series of rappels down the Franco-Argentine route.
As I’ve walked around town today in the howling winds, I’ve felt nervous, humbled and excited all at once. It is unlikely that I will be able to climb all of the route free without jumaring through difficult sections of ice and mixed terrain. The summit and even the technical climbing is still a long way down a series of steps that all must go in our favor before roping up. The predicted weather window holding up and the conditions of the route being favorable when we arrive are big variables that can change quickly.
For as big as the challenge is, I can’t, however, turn it down. Even if Pep and I only arrive to base camp on the glacier, it will be a magnificent experience to stare up at such a massive mountain on the edge of the icecap and meet a future climbing goal. And at best, I get to climb one of the most magnificent mountains in Patagonia to finish out a great trip.
Tomorrow, if we get decent weather, I hope to get out and start learning new techniques at the crags around town and further refine those that I know well.