We are hard at work on video dispatch 10 “A New Line” but in the meantime, here is the latest.
After two weeks of rain, wind and some of the worst climbing conditions Patagonia had seen in years, our whole crew was in pretty grim spirits. It was looking unlikely that we would make it in to the mountains at all. The worst case scenario seemed to be, alpine climbing dreams deferred until next year for Renan, Sean and I, no footage for the Sender Films crew, and nothing but pictures of Rain and fog enshrouded mountains for Kempy. We all were facing the very real possibility that we were getting served up the classic Patagonian shutdown. We wouldn’t be the first to come to the edge of the Americas only to go home empty handed.
And then, when we had finally given up all hope, and embraced the increasingly likely reality of a soul crushing mega-failure, something unexpected happened. In the dark depths of our festering angst, Sean unleashed a bit of wisdom. He remembered that, “Roberta always said that you have to let go of your expectations here, Patagonia has a way of forcing you to let things happen.” And so after two weeks of emotional downward spiraling, we reached a zen-like state of non-attachment. That is when the miraculous transpired: a two-day weather window was forecasted amidst the endless spiraling icecap induced weather vortex. Blue skies, low winds, warmer tempertures…Woohoo!
And so, we packed up five days of food with high hopes and for the first time, actually made it onto the glacier, only to realize that after the two-week super storm, all of the high peaks were encrusted in rime ice. The normally fearsome Cerro Torre group looked positively murderous, and the Fitz Roy group looked like slushy snow plastered death inducers. And so Plan A became plan B became plan C and we opted for one of the only climbable and filmable options, Mochito, a 900 foot massif that sits below Cerro Torre. That afternoon after the long hike in we selected a line with plans to start up first thing the next morning.
Plan C was was shut down before we got off the ground by a huge gaping fifty-foot snow moat that we had not seen from our scoping point. We moved to the right down the cliff. Plan D was almost immediately shutdown by a lovely mix of protectionless dirt filled flaring death cracks, and water soaked rock. A quick bail left us with time for plan E. In all my years in the mountains I had never made it to plan E…this was exciting, but also in equal measures…irritating. Plan E was repulsed after Stanley pulled off a coffin sized block and nearly killed the whole wide-eyed climbing team. Plan F never got off the ground when we realized the crack was actually a decomposing vertical moss infested water course.
This was unprecedented….we had made it to the unheard of stage of plan G in one morning. Plan G was audacious, and entailed the proudest looking line going straight up the steepest part of the cliff. We had discounted this line as looking much too difficult for human hands. So it was with great surprise and delight that I was soon at the end of my seventy-meter rope and the first pitch. That’s when our good friend Jeremy Collins fresh from some bailed plans of his own appeared at the base and asked if he could hitch a ride with Renan and I. And so, Sean tired from so much bailing in one day headed back down to camp to rest up for his attempt to hopefully basejump off El Mocho the next day, and our impromptu climbing team headed up into the unknown.
Jeremy Collins a fellow artist who Renan and I both look up to, had been chatting with me daily on facebook trying to get me to commit to climbing plans, but our film obligations made it impossible to promise him anything and he went down to Patagonia with no partner, on a wing and a prayer to make it work out. He had suffered the same demoralizing bad weather no climbing fate as us, so it seemed karmic that he had somehow stumbled his way onto this first ascent with us. Having let go of any hope of climbing anything it appeared that we just might be receiving our reward.
The climbing was steep, demanding and burly, and ran the gamut from fingers and laybacks, to offwidths and squeezes with everything in between. Mortimer and Kempy and Bean Bowers our Patagonia gnar-master veteran/rigger quickly ran to the top, rapelled in and shot photos and video from above. Plan G was looking up, but night was coming down. With darkness quickly falling I stretched the last pitch 70 meters to the end of the hard climbing running it out on 5.11+ soul-puckering protectionless rope-draggy face climbing. With one headlamp for the followers, Renan seconded the pitch with out light, ripping impressive chunks of flesh out of his gnarled fingers in the process. He spent a minute in the black spiraling nerve wracking abyss on a precarious perch half way up the pitch while he applied half a roll of tape to the flappers to stop the blood from spurting everywhere. This would seem epic to most people but compared to his twenty days of trenchfoot-inducing sub-zero-temp big-wall suffer-festing on Meru earlier this year it was kind of par for the course.
Could it be…yes… we had made it to the top of Plan G. We stumbled down the descent with Kempy who graciously waited for us on top, and an hour later were curled up in sleeping bags basking in the angst releasing afterglow of a successful first ascent adventure. All was good in the world. We would not come home empty handed, and tomorrow Sean was going to try his hand at alpine base-jumping, and Kempy and I formulated plans for one last spikey summit before the weather closed out and we headed for warmer rock and better weather in Brazil. We named the route “No Bad Weather,” and dedicated it to Roberta Nunes who in her life embodied this positive outlook regardless of what came her way.
Stay tuned for more Dispatches.
Lots of Love. Cedar Wright.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
With our time in Patagonia running out we have now fully committed to a high camp on the glacier. This is what we live for: to be fully out there in the middle of a cirque of endless golden granite splitters and spiky summits. Our goal is still to establish a new line and help our close friend Stanley release Roberta's ashes from up high in a special place. However, at the moment, the peaks are looking fully plastered from one of the worst storm cycles in the last 50 years but we have found a probable first ascent and now just need a dry day... basically we have been losing our minds and festering hard in the damp tent rationing food and biding time.
At the end of the 3rd day Kempy and I decided to head out into the 40mph winds to the main flow of glacier to kill some time and get some images... and were rewarded so so sweetly!! We watched the most intense sunset I have ever experienced in the high mountains. The conditions for a shooting timelapse in the heavy wind were desperate, but I was able to improvise a rock-stack to help keep the tiny camera somewhat steady and share the dancing end of day light over the Torres.
So, with this break in the storm we are planning on going for it tomorrow on a new line.
Thanks for following the adventure!
Kind Regards to all,
Posted by renan at 5:59 AM
Friday, February 20, 2009
Wow! It's hard to believe that we are over two weeks deep into our South American adventure! Unfortunately the weather has not cooperated with our psyche to climb, but luckily the bouldering around town has kept us fit and entertained.
In the meantime, we've made a couple ferry loads to ABC and put our gear to the test in the process. For video dispatch eight we've documented it all so you don't have to be here and suffer with us. It's make or break time now...it looks like a weather window on the horizon, and if not...we climb in the full gnar...so wish us luck and stay tuned for more dispatches..Cheers everyone...Cedar and Renan.
This Dispatch Video is related to The North Face gear and has been moved to The North Face Blog
Posted by renan at 12:21 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
To cast your eyes on Patagonia's legendary peaks is to see mountains as you imagined them to be as a child, steep, spikey and symmetrical. Doctor Seuss couldn't have imagined a more perfectly surreal, gravity defying, jaw dropping, range. But we haven't seen much of these dream inspiring peaks since we've arrived, because they've been enshrouded in grumpy storm clouds for nearly the entire time we've been here, only peaking out long enough to let us know that they are covered in rime ice and buffeted by the sort of winds that blow people off summits.
You might imagine the morale of our team to be on the downward spiral into the black hole of delirium ridden depression that bad weather and no climbing can often include, but that's not the case. Thanks to the fact that El Chalten, the town where you wait out the weather, is located in a rain shadow created by the mountains...means even when it is nuking in the mountains you can be sampling the world class tip-shredding bouldering that is scattered around town. This is one of the few ranges in the world where you can actually get stronger in bad weather!
Not that it wouldn't be easy to fall into the tar pit trap of complaining about weather that is beyond your control! I certainly have fallen for that dead end street, but not this time!
Early in the trip I met a soulful young lady from Buenos Aires named Rocio, and she said something that will stick with me for all of my future expeditions rain or shine. She said, "So many of the climbers here are depressed and complaining about the weather, but I met these Brazilians and I really liked there attitude, they said 'There is No Bad Weather when you are with good friends in a beautiful place'" So this is my new hilosophy. The Weather is beyond our control so there is no sense wasting your life away worrying about it. There is NO BAD WEATHER, just rain and sun and clouds and wind, all of which are beautiful and necessary.
For Sure...Renan, Stanley and I would love to get up into the mountains for some climbing and when the time comes we will be PSYCHED!. In the mean time Renan and I have been enjoying the creative outlet of creating these video shorts for our blog. We both have a lot of creative passion for this process and hope to evolve into making successful and unique climbing films in the coming years. Hanging out with Peter and Nick from Sender Films has been a great opportunity to learn about the movie making process from two seasoned pros and get inspired for our own budding production company "ROCKMONKEY FILMS." It's been a fantastic learning curve for me especially.
For me personally, creating these shorts is exciting because they all feature my music which I produced in my spare time using my portable recording studio. Tracks were recorded in Yosemite, Tahoe, Moab, The Sierras and some of my other favorite mountain hangs! All the lyrics, vocals, guitars, synths, beats etc. are produced by me, and I'm happy to have them heard. Making this music has been a labor of love that I will continue to grow.
We have until the 26th of this month to get a window and realize some of our first ascent dreams, but regardless of what the future holds, this has been a fun trip, with good friends and good times both in abundance. THERE IS NO BAD WEATHER!
Lots of love to all of you out there living your lives...CHEERS, Cedar Wright!!! Read more...
Posted by Cedar Wright at 8:30 AM
Sunday, February 8, 2009
If you’ve ever experienced a 48-hour mind warping, energy sapping, time clock battering travel sequence, of cars, buses, and planes, with the occasional gut busting gear humping back breaking exclamation point added in for extra suffer points, then you know what our team has been through to get here to El Chalten Argentina, the famous gateway town to Patagonia’s legendary Fitzroy and Cerro Torre Massifs.
As we bounced along the final bus push to El Chalten, we were teased by the occasional fleeting glance of Fitzroy as it flitted with the endless swirling supply of wind circulated Cumulus. The weather was obviously no good for an immediate hike into the mountains, which I had mixed emotions about. Obviously nothing is guaranteed in the Alpine and I want to get something in the bag before our short time in Patagonia melts away, but a couple of days to recover from the travel weariness and jetlag are certainly welcome.
Renan, Stanley and I have all been here before, but Pete and Nick are seeing Patagonia through childlike eyes… and they are Giddy and extra Psyched!!! “This is the coolest place I’ve ever been,” says Pete with a glossy gleam in his eyes. The sheer vastness, and mind blowing super sized scale that unfolds as you crawl down the road to El Chalten is truly something to be experienced. For me Patagonia ranks with Yosemite and the Karakoram in the top-three list of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It’s good to be back.
Yesterday was our first full day in El Chalten, and with the weather looking bleak up in the mountains, we enjoyed some of the world-class bouldering that is sprinkled around the outskirts of town. Today our fingertips are raw and our muscles are sore from our efforts on the small rocks. Now it’s time for racking and packing for the weather window we are praying comes soon. Now it’s time for the waiting game.
Last time I was here, we spent three weeks watching the wind rip rain puking clouds over the range, teasing us with the occasional view of the spiky terrain but allowing us no windows for enjoying it up close and personal! On the last day before we had to leave, the weather split and we were blessed with a summit and a small first ascent. We were lucky, it’s not uncommon to go home from Patagonia empty handed.
Hopefully our luck is a even better this time, but the extremely volatile and reliably bad weather here is part of the allure and even charm of the experience. Any summit is earned with patience, timing, hard work, and a dash of luck. If the weather was perfect and the climbing straightforward, Patagonia would have lost it’s hypnotizing aura. Because it’s so easy to fail here…Success is oh so sweet.
We are all hoping for the best and preparing for the worst and only time will tell what the outcome will be, but regardless, it is good to be here with good friends in this soul wrenchingly beautiful far reach of world located appropriately at the very edge of the Americas. Stay tuned for more dispatches. Until then…
Lots of Love for your journey!!! Cedar Wright Read more...
Posted by renan at 8:12 AM
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
What a gifted life I lead. In just a few days I'll be heading down to South America on a North Face sponsored expedition with two of my best friends and climbing partners Sean "Stanley" Leary, and Renan Ozturk, to establish first ascents in Argentina and Brazil!!!
So on the front end...a little backstory...I first met Stanley at Humboldt State University where we were both going to school. He was an experienced, Yosemite-seasoned hardman, and I was an over eager, under informed gumby/knucklehead with more enthusiasm than knowhow! Stanley took me under his wing and filled my head with tales of "dirtbag" climbers who lived in the dirt in Yosemite and Joshua Tree and climbed year round. With Stanley's inspiration, soon after geting my BA, I moved into my truck, and while surviving on a few dollars a day, I pursued my climbing dreams full time. During this barebones climbing monk era of my life, I met Renan (also groveling in the dirt) in a campsite in Joshua Tree. We would go on to have first ascent and Alpine First Ascent Adventures in Canada, Alaska, and Pakistan together.
On board to capture the Journey on film are our good friends Peter Mortimer, and Nick Rosen from Sender Films, and legendary hustler and still photographer Tim "Kempy" Kemple, who in 2007 had the "pleasure" of joining Renan and I in Pakistan to photograph our misadventures. So...no angle will be left uncovered.
Perhaps the most important mission of our trip, beyond the hedonistic pursuit of first ascents, is to bring memory and honor to our good Brazilian Friend Roberta Nunez who passed away in a tragic automobile accident in 2006. She was a fixture and a force on the Patagonian climbing scene and at one time voiced her desire to Stanley to have her ashes spread in this alpine wonderland that she loved so much.
Life is a wonderful and mysterious gift, that we should all live as fully and richly as possible. That's what Vertical Carnival is about, celebrating life, climbing, and adventure to it's fullest while we are still here. If losing a vibrant soul like Roberta not to mention several other close friends (Jose, Erica) has taught me one thing, it's to be grateful for this beautiful world and get after it while I you still can...so that's what we are going to do. Stay tuned for more video and text blogs from the field when we touch town in Argentina.
Cheers, and lots of Love. Cedar Wright.Read more...
Posted by Cedar Wright at 4:22 PM