Change is in the air so I’m going back to the writing desk again. Yes, after 3 years in the creative doldrums and backwaters it’s time to put pen to paper. Why stop in the first place? My last post here was in February 2015. Up to then I used to write articles each week, not only for myself (this blog) but also writing articles and trip reports about our Activity Tours in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
There is no room for individuals if you plan to visit the Patagonian Icecap. Every day has it’s own difficulties. The terrain is tough and the weather can be extreme. When the going gets tough then you need team players and cool heads. And everybody can have an “off day”, when the rest of the team need to assist. Fortunately we had a great team with us. Thanks to Chiz and Reu Dakin, Clive Fenn, Mick Mcgregor, Peter Syme, Ian Tupman and of course my partner, Kiersten Rowland.
The first few days of an expedition always seem strange. You mess about erecting tents, the cooking is awkward, and the tent is usually a chaotic mess of dis organisation. But gradually this changes and things get slicker and slicker. By mid expedition everybody is comfortable and at home with the environment. In fact, life becomes very simple. You sleep, eat, drink, move, travel, find shelter, eat, drink and sleep. In between we take photographs of our incredibly stunning situations.
In April 2013, Kiersten Rowland and I of Spanish Highs Mountain Guides joined a team led by British snowboarder/mountaineer Julia Pickering attempting to become the first people to climb and snowboard down the largest active volcano in the Northern Hemisphere, Kamchatka in far eastern Russia. The team’s main sponsor was outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturer, Berghaus. Klyutchevskoy Sopka 4750m is a stratovolcano, the highest mountain on the Kamchatka peninsula and the highest active volcano in Eurasia and one of the largest volcanoes in the world.
The Cirque is to be found on the western side of the Cerro Torre massif, at the eastern edge of the great southern icecap which stretches 300 miles long and 50 miles wide between Argentina and Chile. In fact this is the largest piece of ice outside the polar regions. A huge line of seemingly impenetrable and jagged mountains separates civilisation from the cirque. For those of us not blessed with the necessary skills to climb over them we have to walk round them.
Take a remote refuge with superlative mountain views, a few good friends, tasty food, a wee dram (or two) and a reason to celebrate and you have the makings of a birthday to remember. Last week we tried it out in the Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain. Our friend David Thomas wanted a 50th birthday party with a difference so we headed up to a high trailhead above the town of Güéjar Sierra, just east of Granada.
THE ICE-CAP – SO WILD & STILL Finally, in El Chalten we arrive To face this southern cap of ice Our team of six come from far & wide Would we achieve her illusive prize? On the vast icecap below Paso Marconi The Patagonian gods mocked us with a sunny display Only to veil Cerro Fitzroy & Torre for days But with better reports, a little patience, We were on our way.
Becoming snowblind is one of the most debilitating hazards of being in the high mountains. This article relates my own personal experience on the Patagonian Icecap with this painful condition. I am not a medical expert and haven’t read up on all the facts, so if you want the medical stuff then do a Google Search. I relate below only my own experience. I guess after spending over 40 years walking in the mountains I’ve been lucky not to have contracted snowblindness before.
2011 has been unforgettable in so many ways. There were ups and downs, of course (it is the mountains after all…..ha ha!), but experiences in the Sierra Nevada and Patagonia have shown me some insights I thought I’d share with you. 1. You can make a difference to your world no matter how small it seems! Mule, Muleteers and Mountaineers One day in August a small team of like minded enthusiasts (a mule, 2 Muleteers and 3 Mountaineers) took tools and materials up to 3000m.
Our leonberger, Bruno lost his brave fight against cancer today. In the last 3 days he deteriorated rapidly. After amputation and 2 chemotherapy sessions the vet told us today that the tumors had metastasized. In order that he didn’t suffer, we had no alternative. We shall miss our big-hearted, noble Bruno. There will not be another quite like you. Descansa En Paz my friend! Our leonberger, Bruno lost his brave fight against cancer today.