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  1. #1
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    Aysen Chile Octubre 22

    This will be an occasionally updated travelogue; wifi required to get photos up. We both made all our flights and the ski bags did too! We arrived in Coyhaique yesterday, with a chilly wind blowing. The visible mountains look good though. Well pick up our rental car today and start working out towards Cerro Castillo. Click image for larger version. 

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    Aconcagua

    Napping at the Santiago airport before the final flight.

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    Coyhaique stihl

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    Last edited by riff; 10-15-2022 at 07:39 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Nice Riff! What's the objective you're going for?

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  3. #3
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    Aysen Chile Octubre 22

    Day tours near Cerro castillo for warmup, then perhaps Cerro San Lorenzo when the weather opens up on the 17th, then re-evaluate for the remaining time. The weather is the boss!

    Also, theres some kind of local peanut butter shortage occurring, cant find it in any of the stores I went to.

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  4. #4
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    subscribed

  5. #5
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    Awesome...looking forward to following along

  6. #6
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    May 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by riff View Post
    Also, there’s some kind of local peanut butter shortage occurring, can’t find it in any of the stores I went to….
    True, we now make our own. You will have to settle for Nutella or imitations.

  7. #7
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    First two days out have been rewarding! An excellent weather break let us warm up the legs and get some looks around. The trees in the valley are just beginning to put on leaves, snow in the 4-7k altitudes is windblown pockets of pow, rapidly transitioning to good corn where the old surface is exposed. Lots of daylight and good roadside access south of coyhaique.


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  8. #8
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    Side note- Its been a bit since Ive done much social media stuff, and while I doubt Im blowing up anything unknown or likely to get too crowded, but Ill probably keep super specific location names and lines low profile- just focusing on the overall scene and aesthetics. Im always a little conflicted about this, because I want to share the stoke in great detail but the internet being what it is, I also dont want to overexpose anything.


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  9. #9
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    I think that's the right approach.

    Thanks for the pics. Looks great , spring in the Andes baybee!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by riff View Post
    Side note- It’s been a bit since I’ve done much social media stuff, and while I doubt I’m blowing up anything unknown or likely to get too crowded, but I’ll probably keep super specific location names and lines low profile- just focusing on the overall scene and aesthetics. I’m always a little conflicted about this, because I want to share the stoke in great detail but the internet being what it is, I also don’t want to overexpose anything.


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    Thanks that'l help keep my retirement quiet. That area is one of the last places you don't have to try hard to truly adventure and should be kept that way. Tell the younger bavarian boys whatsup from corndog when you get back

    I don't think i saw a jar of peanut butter my entire time down there.

    How is the general country travel for a gringo like these days? Coyhaique looks rad, a little taste of the Argentine pampas in Chile. I spent a couple weeks around Los rios and Los Lagos doing the same 3 years back, best of luck for sun and no wind! The high pressure can be brutal for that

  11. #11
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    Great pics. Looks incredible

  12. #12
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    bucket list

  13. #13
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    Laughing that you even considered PB. Only gringos eat that weon!

    Looks like you are scoring though

  14. #14
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    Brief update- weather has been stout, weve gotten some stuff done, and a week remains! More detail and pics later. Travel and the local people have been awesome, as always theres shortcomings of our language skills and local knowledge that keep us jangling a bit here and there. Click image for larger version. 

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    This place is amazing, and will test you with its approach and weather difficulties, but the amount and variety of terrain is mind blowing.

    Ill get an organized layout done after getting home- in the meantime weve got one more weather window and Ill be back in the states November 1.


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  15. #15
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    Jan 2005
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    Keep Tacoma Feared
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    Hot Damn! Thanks for sharing. Those lenticular clouds reminds me of Cascade volcanoes.

  16. #16
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    Oct 2005
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    Very cool, thanks for sharing!
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  17. #17
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    Dec 2008
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    Wow! Guess or itinerary will be a bit more roadside, but the stuff further out looks like something else.

  18. #18
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    This got long winded, but first Ill cover the way it all went, then a few thoughts on gear and tactics.
    After our first round of getting supplies and a few day tours, we cast off for a road journey South to Big Country.
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    The weather forecast had deteriorated a bit for our planned target, but we decided to ride it out for a day or two up there, as the weather was going to be rough everywhere. The plan was 5 days on the mountain, with a possible summit attempt on day 2 or 3, day 4 in camp for weather, day 5 for exit. Upon arriving at the planned approach, we were first deterred by the severely broken lower glacier which looked like awful travel, and were also unable to find the big trail on the approach moraine described in our online research and verbal beta. After lots of poking around and binoc time, we decided to try the alternative, very established, but longer approach from another direction, which included another hour of driving and maybe double the walking time before setting a camp for the upper mountain.
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    The first day we ended up camped on a moraine feature about 6 miles and 2k above the car, and finished to mid mountain the next day over a frightening saddle, descending loose shards of rock and smearings of ice, above a bad runout into a deep wind feature at the head of the glacier. A bit uncivilized, with crampons and both ice tools to manage the gravel shards, and 65+pound(!) packs with skis on to enhance the effect of the Patagonian wind; it was sunny and pleasant on the approach side of the saddle, and felt like it was removing your face as soon as we crossed and began descending. This was the scariest part of the trip for me, for sure. (since we planned on a direct short approach, Id packed onions, broccoli, olives, and 6 avocados, picturing more of a base camp, so my pack was stupid heavy)
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    We put in camp mid mountain on the main route, had dinner and got comfy. Right at sunset i popped out for photos, and saw a group of 2 descending on skis above us, about 500 up. As i watched, the uppermost skier fell in a crevasse. Its sunset. I yelled at the lower skier and got their attention on the now absent member, and started getting dressed to help out. we saddled up with glacier kit and started climbing- thankfully by the time we were a 200 feet away, he clawed his way out, unharmed. Back to bed.
    That morning we got a weather update that called for extreme winds by afternoon and for sure a mean storm the next day, so we abandoned a the idea of a quick summit attempt and moved lower. As evening came on, temps went way up and building camp was a sloppy mess at 6400. For the area, this is still high and exposed on a major glacier, so we built a big wind wall and sunk the Mid in a ways. It was so warm the wall flopped over with a thud during dinner, and we crossed our fingers for a refreeze before the storm as we rebuilt it.
    No problem- the next morning was 8 degrees, with outrageous winds and zero viz. I read Annals or a Former World in a day and a half. The Mid rode it out, but the flapping is for real- bring earplugs. Click image for larger version. 

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    After the storm, we had two days of ok weather to try again, but temps stayed rock bottom and winds carried on. We ended up skiing very cool local tours for as long as our faces could handle the wind and cold, and stretched the food to 6 days, but didnt return to the upper mountain. Exit skiing and the depproach went well, and we found a much better way over the shard saddle, to my relief.
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    We did do another night on the moraine that was too windy to keep the Mid standing, so we bivied in the open at 10 degrees. I was wearing everything I had, with my shell jacket pulled over the bottom of my sleeping bag and everything else under rocks as big as my head so it couldnt blow away.
    After finishing the return to the car, we had delightful day in town to get reloaded for a drive to Medium Country.
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    Our decision for a Medium Country plan was a compromise; maybe slightly easier weather than up higher, possibly better access (higher, relatively speaking) from roads, and more moderate terrain for bad weather travel. Our weather window looked similar to the one we had in Big Country, with a few good days, one bad one, wind throughout, and plenty of uncertainty about all of it. We chose a 5 day traverse, with hopefully some outstanding skiing in the heart of it. Views from the valley were encouraging despite thin cover down low.
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    We started from a road at 3600, and were on skis in an hour, followed by a long chill springtime skin up the valley. By late afternoon the clouds had massed, and we crossed a pass westward into the murk at 430. Sloppy sidehilling, fatigue and the late hour pushed us into camp at 6; plenty of light left, but facing a 1200 climb to a pass with uncertain coverage and terrain on the other side was the deciding factor. Thankfully we ended up in a nice flat spot with an open creek. Later wed be very glad we stopped; Clear skies as we went to bed, then it rained all night.
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    The surface in the morning was what youd expect with substantial rain and no freeze, and cloud cover remained 100%. We climbed to the next pass, and found very little snow on the other side- we booted down and across about 300 to the upper end of skiable snow that looked like it went where we were going. Buttery smooth turns resulted for nearly 2k, then it began to funnel into an interesting gully. After another few dozen fun turns, we came to a walled in spot, with a 6 gap in the snow over a waterfall. With the 5 day pack and very soggy snow, neither of us felt like airing it out so we carved down through the snow next to the waterfall and climbed down the mini schrund against wall, until we could get back out on the skis. This occurred again 60 below and required questing to skiers left into a different sliver of snow that brought us happily to valley bottom.
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    We set camp in the outwash of the glacier we planned to ski the next day. Despite stacking probably 70-80 pounds of rocks on each corner, the Mid still needed to be beefed up a few times before bedtime due to wind, and it rained all evening and all night. We had four good hours that day to travel.
    The following morning dawned clear and beautiful, finally! We availed ourselves of a 3k run from the highest point we could reach, and a second shorter lap. Both were stunning quality- as skiing and weather was concerned, the best overall day of the trip. Magic. I couldnt stop taking pictures, and didnt want to leave. The snow, and the light happy cloud show was beyond amazing. Still damn windy, but absolutely worth everything it took to be there.
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    After the laps, we came down to camp and debated the merits of the forecast and what chance the Mid had to survive another real storm above treeline- weather was coming over the ridgetops and we elected to descend that evening.
    I wrote the majority of these thoughts in the Bosque forest below the mountain, safely tucked out of the wind while 40mm of rain falls. Were here from the night of the 26th to the morning of the 28th while the storm blows through, hopefully. Theres an 8 mile depproach waiting, then back to town for the flights home. Its been a really engaging trip, harder than I expected, but absolutely full of action. Much of our success can be credited to my travel partner, whos a steady, thoughtful, and totally unstoppable man of the mountains, with a massive store of personal and pro experience- he saw through the weather struggles more consistently than I did, and kept our collective foot on the gas. Hes more internet averse than me, so he will remain unnamed. This trip was way harder than my rental van based trip near Santiago years ago, less skiing by far, but what a gift to have time and health to explore a mighty mountain range!



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  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    Aysen Chile Octubre 22

    Final depproach: At one point i was blown straight backwards on my skins, with both poles planted- so much wind. I looked back and my buddy just had his glasses blown off his face (not forehead, face!) and they flew off into the spindrift and shattered on the rocks. This was accompanied by skinning through angular boulders the size of five gallon buckets, with a two foot windblown zero density snow layer with a half inch of water ice sprayed on. Maybe the most desperate half mile of full contact skinning Ive done in 40mph+ winds. We were relieved to get below snow line.

    Gear-
    Probably lots of what follows will be obvious to many of you, but i had a few strong realizations out there, and maybe itll help someone planning a trip. These are little details beside the stuff like having some knowledge of terrain and weather patterns, maps, roads, gear repair/first aid, emergency comms, etc.

    Most of my outings at home and abroad, while in similar terrain with similar goals, have relied on selecting a weather window thats robust- this has led me running gear thats on the lightweight side, and rarely spending days at a time in exposed positions. Discuss in your group if youre going to commit to bad weather bunkers, or re-arrange for other options. I like to travel light, but carrying a bit more weight might ease the mind a bit at times.
    My dyneema Mid survived, but barely. The wind was incredible, and the fabric has numerous micro tears, and lots of tyvek tape now. I brought softgoods and shoes that were pretty used but reliable- most of that stuff wont be coming home; three weeks of workin it here have killed them off pretty good.

    I brought two packs; the big one (80l)was my carryon, and everything else and a 40l pack fit in the ski bag for the flights. I think I should have just brought the big pack and a sturdy duffel instead- day tours with the big pack are fine, and having the duffel to put clothes and food supplies in goes a long way towards keeping the rental car a usable space. I only used the 40l pack two days of the trip.

    Plan on more time than you think for transitions; from flights to town, town to mountains, and mountains to other mountains. More. Time. Than. You. Think.
    South of 46 degrees latitude the Carretera Austral is all gravel with occasionally mighty potholes. Roadside camps are fairly easy to find. Get ferry tickets ahead of time, this isnt Seattle.

    Learn more Spanish. My buddy has better Spanish than me, and Ive been working on it sporadically for years. Everything is much less stressful if you have a good handle on this! Duh, I know. Still.

    Get the Kindle app and download a bunch of books. Helps with the tent time.

    Our phones didnt work on data; I guess we needed a SIM card or something. By the time this was apparent, we were in small towns without tech nerd shops and elected to find wifi for weather updates and checking in back home. This proved to be a hassle; find out more than us before you go


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  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Keep Tacoma Feared
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    Amazing photos and beta, thanks for sharing. Not a whole lot of places on earth seem more savage than the Cascades, but this place is one of them.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    2,327
    The phrase that comes to mind is: "I want to have skied in Patagonia" That sounds like quite the series of full on adventures, thanks for posting them riff!

  23. #23
    Join Date
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    Wow sweet, thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  24. #24
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    Apr 2004
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    cordova,AK
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    3,451
    Thanks for the write up. Way to get out and explore. Not sure how much snow was on the glaciers. If you can cut blocks I have had good luck with a ranger trench for glaciers and high winds.
    off your knees Louie

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Powder Mountain
    Posts
    834
    Quote Originally Posted by riff View Post
    Final depproach: At one point i was blown straight backwards on my skins, with both poles planted- so much wind. I looked back and my buddy just had his glasses blown off his face (not forehead, face!) and they flew off into the spindrift and shattered on the rocks. This was accompanied by skinning through angular boulders the size of five gallon buckets, with a two foot windblown zero density snow layer with a half inch of water ice sprayed on. Maybe the most desperate half mile of full contact skinning I’ve done in 40mph+ winds. We were relieved to get below snow line.

    Gear-
    Probably lots of what follows will be obvious to many of you, but i had a few strong realizations out there, and maybe it’ll help someone planning a trip. These are little details beside the stuff like having some knowledge of terrain and weather patterns, maps, roads, gear repair/first aid, emergency comms, etc.

    Most of my outings at home and abroad, while in similar terrain with similar goals, have relied on selecting a weather window that’s robust- this has led me running gear that’s on the lightweight side, and rarely spending days at a time in exposed positions. Discuss in your group if you’re going to commit to bad weather bunkers, or re-arrange for other options. I like to travel light, but carrying a bit more weight might ease the mind a bit at times.
    My dyneema Mid survived, but barely. The wind was incredible, and the fabric has numerous micro tears, and lots of tyvek tape now. I brought softgoods and shoes that were pretty used but reliable- most of that stuff won’t be coming home; three weeks of workin’ it here have killed them off pretty good.

    I brought two packs; the big one (80l)was my carryon, and everything else and a 40l pack fit in the ski bag for the flights. I think I should have just brought the big pack and a sturdy duffel instead- day tours with the big pack are fine, and having the duffel to put clothes and food supplies in goes a long way towards keeping the rental car a usable space. I only used the 40l pack two days of the trip.

    Plan on more time than you think for transitions; from flights to town, town to mountains, and mountains to other mountains. More. Time. Than. You. Think.
    South of 46 degrees latitude the Carretera Austral is all gravel with occasionally mighty potholes. Roadside camps are fairly easy to find. Get ferry tickets ahead of time, this isn’t Seattle.

    Learn more Spanish. My buddy has better Spanish than me, and I’ve been working on it sporadically for years. Everything is much less stressful if you have a good handle on this! Duh, I know. Still.

    Get the Kindle app and download a bunch of books. Helps with the tent time.

    Our phones didn’t work on data; I guess we needed a SIM card or something. By the time this was apparent, we were in small towns without tech nerd shops and elected to find wifi for weather updates and checking in back home. This proved to be a hassle; find out more than us before you go


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    you missed:

    -bring mate for the down times
    -calculate food in empanada-days
    -Chilean is 40yrs away from not being spanish


    I've met you once (I think) when you were working SPSP, if you do another trip let me know, tengo weons con motonieves, refugios, glaciars y mas

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