Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Crux

A post dated blog entry - hopefully this is about where they should be by now:

A lot of the Darwin Range looks relatively placid on Google Earth, which I’m sure it isn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is that there’s one section that doesn’t look flat and for sure isn’t. Es “muy encantilado.” With any luck, we’re approaching it now.

By all accounts (both of them: Google Earth low res and the image below), it looks like this “impass” is just to the north of Monte Darwin, with a transverse ridge leading down to Fiordo Parry. Incidentally, we’re afraid to travel on the south side of the ridge because it’s too gnarly, although there is more boat traffic in the Beagle Channel in case of retreat). The lower we go to navigate around the crux ridge(s), the more broken the glaciers will be- for sure we won’t be able to cross at the toe of the glacier without a raft. Higher up the mountains will probably be obscured. Most likely, we’ll be searching around the middle part of the ridge, looking for a good place to descend. Due to the “make or break” condition of this part of the traverse, we thought it prudent to bring two 60m ropes for the possibility of an extended rappel. I know, it seems silly that an extra 30 metres out of a total 120,000 will make a huge difference, but that rope is one more advantage we wanted to add to our pile. I’m not sure how much this extra 60m half-rope weighs, but I’m certain it’s more than a nice sharp telephoto lens, or a pizza, which we’d rather bring (but neither of which I’d want to use to get down a 58-metre cliff).

Check out the zone here in two of the air photos Kari acquired in Santiago. We have only this area and the start zone because the whole meal deal would have cost $3,000 and wouldn’t have been prepared in time. Our crux is more to the northwest, but the interesting part is that wild glacier cutting off a fjord down in the southeast part. We’ll be traveling north of this section but it’s my hope to at least get a glimpse. You don’t see to many “oceanic lakes” (?) such as this in the world these days.

Wild! On Google you can really see the difference in colours and how the glacier cuts off the fjord.

If we make it past the crux zone it’s all relatively smooth sailing from there, with long, sweeping glaciers to cruise on, directly to Bahia Yendegaia.

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