“Bleleleleleep.” The piece of relatively modern technology in my hand emits its message alert. Earlier I had sent out some text messages via the satellite phone in search of weather reports. “New SMS Text. Read Now?” it asks. Is this the one I have been waiting for, I wonder to myself.
An hour before, Matt and I had wandered away from the Thirty Degree Camp, our sloping home in the beech trees and made our way across the boulders,
fruitilla del diablo covered marshes and glacially polished slabs to the edge of the lake. Around us snow clad peaks played peak-a-boo with rising, puffy white clouds. Steep slabs rise off the far end of the lake, culminating in a jumbled hanging glacier that occasionally cedes its edges to gravity. There is beauty everywhere but it is the striking, rime coated, symmetrical “Tooth” that catches and holds my attention. Despite its small stature on the skyline, dwarfed as it is between the imposing south face of Avenali Tower and the hulking mass of South Avellano Tower’s backside, its almost perfect geometric shape draws me in. We sat at the edge of the lake, mostly in silence, before moving around the lake’s southside, making our way toward the moraine that will take us to the saddle and beyond to the north face of South Avellano Tower. Matt paused and sat in the sun, but I ambled on, crossing a small, braided stream and into snow covered terrain. As I neared the moraine, I paused, reached into my pocket and fished out the Iridium satellite phone. My thumb pushed the power button and I watched its screen light up. After sticking it back in my pocket I continued upward. I had not gotten forty feet before the familiar electronic ring gave me pause.
I press the “Yes” option when the screen poses its question to me. I am greeted with an “in progress…please wait” message. Then a text from Daren appears. “1/22” it starts with the date. “improving weather… higher winds on Thursday…12 knots” Then “splitter window.” His last sentence sends shivers down my spine. I know that Friday is still four days away and the forecast isn’t always reliable, but I can`t help but be a little bit excited. Of course that is tinged with nervousness and apprehension. Thoughts start to swirl. I mentally count the days, think about shuttling and think about scouting. I immediately stop my upward journey and turn back towards Matt and camp.
I pass on the news and we make our way back to camp. We find Dave and Ting-ting relaxing in the sun while drying and charging various accoutrements with the solar panel. We talk about what seems to be an improving forecast and toss around ideas. We have two reliable sources: Anna is sending us the raw data from the meteogram while Daren is sending us the highlight reel and his interpretations. We decide to wait for a little more information before making any big decisions, but the forecast, current sun and lack of precipitation boost our spirits. We laze about on the grassy moraine, enjoying the Patagonian sun, it’s game of of hide-n-seek behind the clouds of the western sky, notwithstanding.