Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fitzroy - Attempt 1

Owen and I woke up at 4am Thursday morning and were out the door by 5 to start our trek back up to Paso Superior for what was going to be a two to three day weather window. We didn't have to carry much as everything was stashed up there from our previous reconnaissance trip. It took less than 8 hours to get to the pass where we were struggling to stay connected to the snow ridge due to the strength of the wind gusts. After an hour and a bit the winds died down signalling the start of a spell of good weather. Due to still having a fair bit of time left in the day we decided to try and make it to the top of the Brecha, a 300m mixed rock, snow and ice gully approach to the bivvy called the Brecha de los Italianos. This involved another long slog up a glacier then dealing with a tricky schrund before the mixed 300m even begun! We made it to the top just before dark and were exhausted after a day of over 2000m elevation gain.
Owen walking up to Lago de los Tres
Owen above Lago de los Tres on the way to Paso Superior.
Owen on the glacier above Paso Superior on the way to the Brecha de los Italianos.
Four in the morning and we were up again to tackle another long mixed pitch leading to a rock and ice covered slope were the La Silla bivvy is located. The La Silla bivvy is a rock big enough for two to sit behind out of the wind. It is also the closest bivvy site to the base of the Franco-Argentine route up Mt Fitzroy. Two Americans that were in front of us the day before had bivvied here and were at the base of the granite wall were the route begins. So we waited...
The first pitch of the route is a 50m finger crack at a grade of 6a+ in the topo but the word around town was that it was closer to 6c. It didn't matter as it was choked with ice and snow and turned into an aid climbing epic by the Americans taking a couple of hours. It was easier once they had cleaned it for us but the speed at which we were moving became an issue and with the pitches above all iced up we decided to bail. The Americans and a team of three Korean ladies (North Face sponsored?) behind us also decided to turn around. The route needs a couple of days of good weather to come into condition and we need to jump on it first in line so there is no waiting around. 
First good weather in a few weeks and everyone wants a go! Owen rapping down over the icy ridge approach with three Koreans and two Americans above.
The joys of finding a nice rappel anchor! At the top of the Brecha begining our descent.
Owen a couple of rappels down the Brecha.
After bailing back to Paso Superior we fell into our snow cave and slept for what must have been about 12 hours. The next day we stumbled back to town defeated but found an even better period of weather is approaching and now have renewed confidence since we understand the approach and conditions better than before. Plans are always changing along with the weather forecasts but at the moment it looks like today is our only rest day before heading back to Paso Superior tomorrow. We are breaking up the approach to conserve energy and give the route a day of good weather before we jump on it. After tomorrow we will go from Paso Superior to La Silla were we will bivvy behind the rock there. Hopefully most of the other punters will give it a go that day and be out of our way for the next. We will have a very early start to be first on the next day and hopefully make it up!

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