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Dolomite explores Patagonia with Manrico Dell’Agnola

“The mountaineering situation in Patagonia is special and often a bit absurd; it’s elastic, contracting and flattening until it appears ordinary with each success, while with every failure, every unsuccessful climb, it grows enormous and twists like an octopus, taking on cosmic dimensions (…). The game of mountaineering turns into a gamble in Patagonia”.
The wonderful book “Patagonia” by Gino Buscaini and Silvia Metzeltin tells of this marvellous land and the Cerro Torre, its most popular peak and the most exposed to a truly crazy climate.

The weather is the main problem in these parts; the first week does however inspire optimism, also because it’s human and logical to think that, after so much bad weather, good weather will probably come ….the aim was to take up as much equipment as possible, despite the very strong wind and the rain which turned into snow only under the faces, something which had never happened to me before. We had entire days of blizzards in the village too, with powerful gusts which made even moving among the houses dangerous as sheet metal and other parts of the roofs being built were flying about.
In our favour we had a warm and welcoming friends’ house as accommodation at El Chalten, where we went back every evening as an attack on the face would have been both impossible and not a good idea.

My plan of attack consisted in bringing the equipment from the village directly to the Niponino along the path as far as the De Agostini camp and the entire glacier to under the Torre, for a total of at least 12 hours’ walking from village to village, and then going up directly when the weather was to have been favourable for a “real attack”. We would in this way have avoided a long stay in the tent with bad weather in favour of the comforts which village life offers: copious quantities of meat and beer and a warm and dry place to sleep as preparation for the mental and physical hardship of the face.

In the second week we recovered the equipment left on the glacier; unfortunately this trip only gave us one day of sunlight. A complete “fracaso” as the Spanish say …. The Cerro is still there and I really think that I’ll be back… otra vez.

Manrico Dell’Agnola