Wednesday, January 28, 2009

´scary when icy´

Awaking to fine weather again we were starting to feel like we´d just had a particularly bad 4 weeks of Patagonian weather up to this point. We weren´t about to get the beach towls out and chill for the morning or anything but we did feel at least a bit more positive about our chances at this point. Our 6th day was the awesome the weather looked set to hold all day and we had all our ropes free to fix as high as they would reach, There would be no hauling to do just climbing. The biggest challenge of the day came in the form of wide crack climbing. 3 pitch´s in a row of wide stuff a 7a then 7b+ (grade 26 off-width!!) followed by a 6b (apparently ´scary when icy´). I´m not sure how we came to this arrangement, Jake had been preparing himself for wide wet stuff in Tassy for months, I´d been hitting the local sport crags of the Mountains around home yet it was me that was lined up for the hardest off-width I´d ever been on by four grades that was too wide to take gear! It did at least have 3 bolts in its 30 meters.
(Lee on the 7a)
Today the gods shined on me and clearly had some beef with Jake, the 7b+ could have passed for a 22 and and the 6b was much the same minus the bolts but with water ice rendering the inside of the wide crack frictionless with the very edge being the only exception.
(Lee on the 7b+)
(Jake on the 7b+, note the ice!)
Hours passed, it was a spiritual experience of monumental scale for the poor guy. On the verge of being spat from the very edge of this wide beast of a crack the glacier below looked even further away through the tears in his eyes. It was the classic story of 2 shuffles up for every slide back down. With his ankles being sacrificed in an attempt to stop the downward ooze there was a trail of blood staining the ice on the back wall for 20 meters. The comfort of the belay finally arrived after a few useless cam placements in the ice and one slung hole in the ice that could hardly have even been much of a psychological placement.
(Jake on the 6b)
It was my lead again and it was yet another friendly overgraded jugfest with good gear that served only to rub salt into Jakes wounds over how bad a hand he had been dealt with the days leads.
This took us to the other crux pitch of the route, Jake gratiously gave the lead to me, afraid of what a grade 27 might yeild on a day when the gods were clearly not with him. After about 500ml of melted snow in 10 hours my onsight attempt was less than impressive, coming to a fast end with a massive pump. Sometime later, after trying to imagine what sequence Wolfgang would have used to overcome this little boulder then deciding whatever it was I should look for a different way anyway and make use of my modern shoes in place of his massive biceps, I found a good way to do it. My second attempt however was thwarted by an even faster onset of lactic acid and I then too made the mistake of leaving it for another day.

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