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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Patagonia wall diary

Posted by George Ullrich
Saturday 11th September 2010

I just found my diary from my recent trip to Patagonia earlier this year,

Here is a snippet from the time I was on the wall.

 

 

Sat 30th Jan

We are finally settled on the wall, it’s been an epic! Yesterday we hiked to the base and started climbing at 1pm. Pete and I hauled the bags to the end of pitch 4 (160m) then, getting late, Mason set off up pitch 5, aiding in really icy conditions and unbelievable spindrift. He manned up as usual and eventually managed to place a bolt so we could set up our first camp on the wall. When it came to setting my ledge up I found mine was broken - must have been damaged on transit at some point. I found that the joint on the long poles had bust! I spent about 2 hours trying to lash it together in pretty torturous conditions, but to no avail. Very cold and exhausted all 3 of us squeezed into Mason’s ledge at 4am for the remainder of the night.

 

This morning I managed to bodge my ledge together using an ice axe as a splint. I’m in it now, feels a bit rickety but should do the trick.

 

I managed to free pitch 5 this morning, really pleasant climbing up a sloping ramp with a thin start. Around 5.11 I think.

 

Mason sussed out pitch 6, looks desperate but should go with a bit of practice. Still snowing and gusting hard. (We hear rain is forecast for the next few days, I don’t believe it.)

 

Sun  31st Jan

Great climbing day today.

My hands are painful! Skin is pealing away from my fingernails (always seems to happen after I get cold hands).

 

Mason and I set off climbing while Pete sorted out the cluster fuck of gear our ledges had got into. We fixed lines up to pitch 7 before the weather came in again (very cold today). Retreated back to camp for lunch.

 

After some food we all headed out again, I managed to free pitch 7, the most incredible corner crack you have ever seen! Weather started getting bad again, but Mason pushed onto pitch 8, a traverse, which reached the half Paso crack (a feature which we had spotted and named from the ground), this is where we branch off the original aid route. Mason spotted the half Paso crack and was blown away by its beauty (sick splitter Indian creek style crack but on granite).

 

Back down to the ledge as the weather is getting even worse and the snow is blowing up again!

 

Mon 1st Feb

Another very windy day, we managed to get the rope up to the top of pitch 9 today (unfortunately the half Paso pitch was too cold and icy too free climb today). Escaped back down for food, while eating dinner in Mason’s ledge we saw my sleeping mat fly out my ledge and straight up over the cliff.

 

Bugger my ledge is full of snow and its blowing a hooly

 

Tues 2nd Feb

A cold night with only my thin ¾ thermarest to sleep on. A lot of snow came in my ledge last night.

 

Despite the rough night, today is the best weather we have had so far although we didn’t get going till noon. Mason was soooo close to sending pitch 6 today (French 8a), thin stemming corner with a seam in the back. He took multiple falls and on one occasion ripped a knife blade peg out which was a bit nerve wracking.

 

At about 6pm, Pete and I headed up to the top of our fixed lines and pushed on a bit further. Pitch 10 was really nice climbing, started on hollow flakes then went into a layback flake then into a perfect hand crack and up an awkward corner.

 

Wed 3rd Feb

6th day on the wall today, seems like we have been restricted by the weather somewhat.

 

Snow and strong wind all day today, we moved our camp to the top of our fixed lines pitch 10.

 

Thurs 4th Feb

Late start as per usual, chocolate porridge, very tasty. I climbed the next pitch, felt quite scary, lots of loose flakes and blocks but good climbing. Short 20m pitch, came down for lunch.

Mason and I headed up to our high point again. Mason was not looking too impressed, I led the next pitch, Mason got very cold. It turned out to be a lot steeper than it looked.

 

Now listening to music in the bodge ledge.

 

Fri 5th Feb

We actually got up a 9am early start today! Mason sent the half Paso pitch today, fantastic! I couldn’t touch it.

 

Pete and I headed up to the high point and Pete aided pitch 13, the blank corner. Very impressive pitch. I top roped it and found that it would probably go by stepping out onto the left arête and making wild moves then stepping back into the corner for the final 8 metres. (I think it will be at least F8a to free)

 

Mason set off and found 100m of hideous off width (just his thing!) because of his tight shoes he didn’t make it, but next time…

 

Sat 6th Feb

Surprise surprise, woke up to high winds and driving sleet, didn’t do anything all day, just chilled in the ledge and listened to music.    

 

Sun 7th Feb     

Last night my ledge broke! The winds where so strong it snapped it! One minute I was lying there half asleep and the next my feet where sandwiched up by my head and the air and snow hit me. I shouted for help, “er guys I think I need a little help here!”

 

My ledge had snapped in the middle making it fold in on itself, then the fly flew off the base and flapped around wildly. I was there still stuck hanging in my bivi bag, scared to move in case it blew away!

 

Eventually I managed to pass everything which was clipped to my ledge to Pete and Mason in the other ledge. Then got out of my bivi/sleeping bag while hanging which was quite a procedure. I then tied to my mess off a ledge in a bundle so that it didn’t flap around like mad.

So it was to be a triple ledge sesh once again. It continued to be a wild night. The ledge would be lifted and smashed against the wall even though it was tied down as tight as possible

 

This morning the weather had not let up and the decision was made to bail.

 

 

Read more blog entries by George Ullrich

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