Des 2008 - Ols og Den Nye Vinen i Patagonia

Nok en monster cragrapport fra Den Nye vinen også kjent som Bjørn Eivind. Han har sammen med blant annet The Ols rocka around neri Patagonia.Takk Bjørn Eivind for CR og fantastiske bilder. Legg merke til Olsen som gikk disse monsterlinjene i Patagonia rett ut av sofaen.

Popping out of the long windblown ice tunnel, I wonder what Cullen is thinking? He is having his first real ice climb this very moment on Cerro Torre, what a debut! Comparable to having your life´s first sexual encounter with Sophia Loren. As I take in slack while Cullen follows up the beautiful deep blue tunnel, I feel the  incredible lightness of being on the ultra-classic Ferrari route in such weather. We are almost naked, one thin 70 meter iceline, 5 stoppers and one piton together with ten ice screws. Everything is light on this climb, weather, equipment, body and even better, my heart feels light and full of energy. I manage to enjoy everything to its fullest and putting other things in a small drawer just for now, saving it for the descent or something.

Marius is on fire immediately when he sees my pictures and material from last year and hear my stories. I had been burning constantly since my first stormy visit in november 2007. The raw beauty and the fighting against wind and snow turned me on, believe it or not. I am happy to go with such a good friend and strong ice climber like him, and I book the tickets immediately to pin him down. We have big plans of course, and I cannot wait to see what will actually be possible to achieve. With the weather Norway has on offer for us back home, at least we are somewhat prepared for battle.

There are always things in your life you have to deal with, this time we both had major stuff in line back home. A whole trip is hardly ever perfect, and for life as a whole, forget it. But an isolated climb can be just that, a beautiful escape with no flaws, filling me up for more important things to come.

On the summit mushroom of Stanhardt I sense something in Marius mindset that I´m not used to. In the whiteout and gusty wind we miss the main mushroom and climb the first snowcotton formation we see. For a split second when the clouds part, I see a small ridge leading to the bigger summit formation just half a pitch away. He immediately says that we should go down instead of climbing the other one as well. I find it a bit defensive to be him, but still reasonable, and we agree on heading down. I don´t give it a second thought at all. 

We get some serious spindrift abseiling down the chimney, it reminds me of last year when Joakim Eide and me where fighting our way up the lower part of it in a snowstorm. It was totally crazy, we could not see the ice nor our hands because of the constant powder avalanche streaming down the chimney. We climbed half a pitch before giving up, by then Joakim´s hood had blown off and his jacket filled up with snow very fast. When it started to melt on his back the whole situation started to get interesting.
This year everything is different, in our first try we climb Exocet on Cerro Stanhardt. Starting leisurely at sunrise on a cold day with a little bit of wind, the cool temps made the iceconditions perfect in the 240 meter long chimney. It was steep, hard and amazing. The preceding days had been stormy, the result was fantastic white rime covering everything. The beauty was surreal, the whole north/east wall of Stanhardt was totally white. It was actually hard to concentrate on the climbing, which we had to, the mixed sections demanded a lot of digging in the rime to find the holds and cracks.

A tickling sensation creeps down my spine when arriving down on the glacier above Niponino just as darkness falls, what a timing. I wonder if Patagonia might have more on hold for us, this is such a promising start.

A few days later we head for The Marsigny/Parkin route on the south side of Cerro Torre. This is totally out of condition and after some 200 meters of scary climbing with hardly any protection or sound belays, we decide to rap down again. This is also very scary and it is difficult to find cracks for pitons or ice for v-threads. As a consolation prize, we climb Benitiers on El Mocho, and then decide to move base camp and try our luck from Rio Blanco and Paso Superior on the other side of The Fitz Roy massif.

The supercool iceline running down the rockface below the Poincenot serac is on our mind, among other things. We know time is short, if the temp rises and we get sunny weather, the whole thing might evaporate and be gone in a few days. We are not less motivated by Rolo Garibotti telling us it is unclimbed, he says he will even throw in a dinner for us if we really climb it. After scanning the forecast twice every day, we are now on our way to our tent at Rio Blanco. Tomorrow is supposed to be ok, a brief weatherwindow is passing by. 

Waking up at night, I almost have to pull Marius out by force, clearly something is bothering him. My dear friend doesn´t seem to have his usual joy before a possible great climb. However, the starstudded night soon puts us on the right mindtrack again, the sunrise is magic as we branch left towards Poincenot. We rope up for the more complicated glacier above Lago Sucia. Soon we will be able to see the line. I can´t wait, blood rushes through my body as we plod and weave our tracks between giant blocks of ice. From a long distance the line looked a little white and sundrenched, will it be safe and climbable still? In the split second when the ice comes into view, I know we will be climbing today. To further emphasize our good fortune, the morning sun is hidden behind a thin veil og cloudes and doesn´t harm the ice. And in a few hours the sun will not even reach the southeast facing wall.

Seracs are always something to consider. There is an enormous one hanging over and along the whole length of the big rockface. But just above our line it is laying back and looks safe.  Once up on the steep wall, the sun comes again. As fast as flipping a switch, small chunks of ice starts falling, I know it is only bits of rime falling off the almost white rockface, but it still disturbs us. The ice is fine, solid under a 3-4 cm layer of white. Progress is fast, soon the sun disappears and the rime bombardement stops. Hanging in my harness, I realise this is the perfect moment here and now. I try to absorb the gorgeous surroundings, but it is almost too much. The line is straight as a pencil, stretching above us and into the sky. It isn´t a waterfall really, more like a meltdown from the glacier above, no more than half a meter thick in the middle and thinner to the sides. What a feeling beeing a spider on this white web plastered to a smooth wall 500 meters high and blank as a mirror. Suddenly a distant thunder tears me out of my dreamlike condition on the belay, looking out left I see big chunks of ice falling silently towards the glacier below. The wall is so steep, the big ice avalanche explodes down there without touching rock on the way down. A big puff of powder spreads out down below us. I can´t help but screaming in joy and amazement. Looking up, I see Marius hanging on his axes 50 meters above me, he didn´t miss the show either.

The actual climbing is a bit monotonous, but not boring by far, we are moving up a blank wall of ice without any formations. Two long dead vertical sections get the pump started a bit, the rest of the climb is a little less steep, maybe 85 degrees. We are delighted to find the serac perfectly relaxed above our line just as expected, it gives us 100 meters of easy climbing to top out and rest our eyes on the grand wall of Fitz Roy. After a few minutes, Marius takes the lead guiding us safely back down, abseiling from abalakovs after downclimbing to the serac. Ten long rappels take us past the bergschrund and to our packs waiting below. When we walk back towards Lago de los Tres, we leave some gear for later.
Back down and into the waiting game, we discuss a possible big new line on a big face. We decide to give it a try, there is a nice weather window coming. But the evening before our planned departure as I sort the gear, I know that Marius´s motivation is running low. Waking up at midnight to leave for Fitz Roy, he has lost his momentum. We talk a lot and realize that there is no point in us climbing when his joy is absent and his mind is somewhere else. A close and dear partner at his company is seriously ill. I know that next time for some reason, it might be me in his shoes. But I´m still full of energy and understand that the best way to set us both ”free” is for me to find another partner as soon as possible. Grabbing my water bottle, I immediately head towards Chaltén wringing my brain for any option. I remember a young guy named Ramiro, he was looking for a partner the other day. Arriving back down, full of hope, I head for his tent and wake him up.

Ramiro is willing and ready, after one hour we head towards Rio Blanco again. Marius is smiling when he sees that I have found somone to team up with, we say goodbye and I don´t know at this point that he will be on a plane back to Norway in a couple of days.

Next afternoon we lounge on our stonebeds under Supercanaleta, the hike from Paso Superior via paso Guillamet went surprisingly smooth. Mr. Ramiro is half my age and in good shape. Our slumbering stops at midnight, we stand up, grab the the rope, the rack and put the small packs on our back. The start of the route in the canaleta itself is easy, though the ice in some sections is thin and running with water. The massive rockfaces must still contain some heat from the eveningsun. We are not alone, two other teams are plodding up close to us during the night. Climbing big routes with unknown partners is not my normal choice, I miss Marius a lot. Beeing a unified and well adjusted team is so much better and safer and gives more room to focus on the challenges ahead, they are usually plentyful to say the least. Ramiro is a nice guy, but we differ in experience and it falls on me to do the leading and route finding.   

The nature of the route allows fast progress with shorter sections of harder climbing. We reach the top in the afternoon, more or less together with the other teams. In total we are seven people up there, sharing chocolate cake from the Chocolateria, smiling and laughing. Ramiro is really happy, he tells me about his father that attempted this peak in his youth, now he will return and tell him that he just put his feet on the very top of Fitz Roy.

Two days later, I´m heading up for a new climb, this is turning into a frenzy. If there is an almighty up there, he is certainly putting a lot of care into creating good weather for us. I cannot believe how lucky we are, notorious Patagonia is giving us a stable high pressure system. All we have to do is climb, climb, climb.

I brought with me the topo of Vela y Viento  (Red Pillar) on Mermoz. The rumours says it to be a beautiful and sustained crackline, it was created by Kurt Albert and Bernd Arnold ten years ago. I have to pinch myself, just starting another dream climb. This time with crack climber Cullen Kirk from the north american desert. After a short and flaky introduction, the cracks unfold in front of us, the hard pitches beeing fingersized splitters. There is a 70 meter section with continous hands, it is as good as any climb in Indian Creek. We have a light pack for the second and nothing for the man in the sharp end. Swinging leads, we gain height rapidly, soon we can navigate the sharp summit ridge and have a look out west at the queen of Patagonia. Having climbed under the mighty king (Fitz Roy) the whole day, it is nice with some female company. The tickling sensation rises again as I see Cerro Torre, but it would be too much, I can´t have her as well on this trip, or can I? Trying to focus on the moment, I wonder about all the bolts placed with a power drill on this natural line. I hope this is a dying trend, here in Patagonia and elsewhere, using a power drill to place 100+ bolts on a 600 meter crackline is after my opinion a style that should be avoided.

Back in Chaltén to eat, eat, eat and counting days to my bus ride out of town. It is still time for the ultimate ice climb, the Ferrari route on Cerro Torre. I quickly realize that Cullen is the man, even if he hasn´t climbed a real ice route in his life yet. Our partnership on Mermoz was fine. He has an urge to move upwards that impressed me, and even better, he is keen to go.

After one rest day, I find myself once again in Niponino below Cerro Torre. There is a kind of lightness of beeing that is hard to grasp. When we start the approach towards the Stanhardt col, I feel light and strong after more than five weeks of climbing in the area. Our plan seems  obvious to us and a much better choice than spending weeks in a rotten cave on the ice cap as many people do to get access to the Ferrari route. As we descend from the col via three short rappels a subtle sunrise paints its first strokes on the mountains in Cirque de los Altares, one of the most beautiful places I´ve seen in my life.

We go solo with the rope in the pack directly to Col of Hope and stops there for breakfast. On the headwall there are some tiny figures climbing, maybe it is the Argentinians? Cullen is familiar with simul-climbing and we basically simul all the way to the headwall except for the steepest pitch on the Helmet. This is the day when everything is easy and light, I never loose my concentration though, aware of the danger hidden behind the beauty. Topping out the steep headwall, I meet with Walter from Switzerland who is decending after the first solo of the Ferrari. Having nice chat with him as I take in slack, I´m impressed once more by Cullen´s tenacity. When he comes to the belay he is pumped to his ears, but didn´t rest during the long, steep pitch. From there every step is magic, and brings us closer to the summit of Cerro Torre. The long, blue ice tunnel takes us to an easier pitch and then finally I can take my first swing at the mythic mushroom guarding the summit. It takes me something like twenty minutes thanks to the hard work of the young Argentinians digging in the rime the week before. The climbing  still makes your heart beat, 40 meters of overhanging hooking and stemming in ice and snow.

The rock-solid bearhug I get from Nico, one of the Argentinians on the summit plateau is sweet. Fucking hell, we have reached the very summit of Cerro Torre in perfect weather. We have climbed faster and lighter than I ever thougt possible. Thanks to Rolo Garibotti, who put the idea of doing it in a day from Niponino into my head.

Bathing for hours in the afternoon sun, trying to absorb every drop, we decide to bivi on the top to ”have it all”. We have a windproof sack and establish a sheltered bivi just under an overhang. The wind picks up during the night, it is hard to sleep to the flapping of the fabric. To make it worse, I eat something that looks like chocolate beans. It is actually espresso beans with a thin chocolate cover. After half an hour I´m wide awake with a hurting stomach. I managed to eat the whole package. I still manage to smile as I spoon with Cullen, drawing warmth from each other like it was a beloved girlfriend there with you. My god, climbing does bring men closer to each other in every sense. We go trough crisis in the partnership on long and serious climbs, and every time it is a little lesson in how to treat a fellow human soul. Our descent the next day is tiring and a test for our patience. With only one 70 meter 8.1 mm we have to take care. I´m shocked by the bolt travesty on the Compressor route, even if I knew what to expect. Around 40 rappels bring us down to the glacier. The rope looks like overcooked spaghetti, but it took us safely down.  Soon we will sleep like babies in our tent in Niponino.

Fotocred Bjørn Eivind Årtun


  1. Anonymous3:53:00 AM

    Olsen IS the man.

  2. Anonymous4:10:00 PM

    This training develops the entire shoulder muscle group and is also useful for
    shoulder accidents.

    Also visit my page Dumbbell presses