2015, Aisén, Avellanos

The Group Process

“Where are you going with those” Dave asks, a bit perplexed as I grab the three mostly full duffle bags of food from the cook tent.

“I am a visual person”, I respond. “I need to spread the food out to do a proper inventory.” I cart the bags down the thirty degree slope to a quasi-flat spot and get down on my knees amid the moss, rocks, and beech trees to spread the food out.

We had just received a few promising weather reports from friends in the States and needed to take stock of our resources in order to make a solid plan. With the good weather still four days away, if we needed supplies, now would be the time to get them.

As I unzip the first duffle bag and start depositing food into similar piles, my NOLS course food rationing and planning instinctively kicks in making the process pretty simple. Snacks and lunch type stuff above the log, meat and cheese below, breakfasts over there, dinners to my right, and hot drinks by the tree. Next to me Dave has, unsurprisingly, unzipped his camera bag and has started taking pictures, making sure to document just one more aspect of the group process we go through on a regular basis.

Soon the food is sorted and Ting-Ting has begun the natural Type-A second step of combining bags of like items, while I pull out the trash and rebag other items.

“So,” Matt starts “it is eight days to the end of the forecast, potentially on a Thursday, with potentially good weather Monday through Thursday”

“Yep” I respond when he pauses.

“And we have eight days of food in front of us, well including the bars and bag meals we have at the saddle.

The view from our base camp (thirty-degree camp.)  The snowy peak on the right is the backside of South Avellano Tower.
The view from our base camp (thirty-degree camp.) The snowy peak on the left is the backside of South Avellano Tower.


“That seems about right” Dave responds after a slight moment of contemplation. My eyes scan the food and I mentally try to make meals with it in my mind, combing rice and lentils, figuring pounds of flour for pancakes and cookies for Dave. I am not sure how that number was arrived at, but it seems good enough, so I nod in agreement.

“So we have enough food to give this one shot and get out during this weather window” Matt says. “We are only going to get one shot at the this. I think if we get up there and bail we’ll comeback down and be like ‘fuuckk man we are worked’. We won’t be going back up”

“I don’t know” I contend. “Right now we have eight days of food for 15 days that we could be out here. What if the window is big and we do get a second chances, like on Fitz? Or maybe this window closes out and another one comes in a few days later?”

“Yeah, I think we got one shot.”

After a few seconds of silence, Dave turns the silently recording camera towards Ting-Ting. “What do you think Ting-Ting?”

Ting-Ting is silent for a moment and then weighs in on the side of needing more food for the time we have allotted for the mountains.

After a few more thoughts and opinions have been tossed out and batted around it is decided that stressing over food with potentially good weather coming is a bad idea and that getting some supplies to bolster our eight day supply to a fourteen or fifteen day one has its merits.

The idea is reinforced later after Ting-Ting’s dinner that left us all content with our portions for the first time on the expedition. Tomorrow, Matt and Dave will scour the one horse town of Bahia Murta to see what can be found. The one thing I know for certain is that Dave will find cookies.