The Lessons – 2014
– Become more well rounded. Mountains in this range demand a solid command of a wide array of mountain skills. The past two trips to this arena have led me to believe that I can get away with being a strong alpine rock climber and a not so strong mixed or alpine ice climber. Not true. If I want to stand on more summits, being more well versed in these disciplines will serve me well.
– Climb in groups of three. There is something reassuring about knowing that if I am incapacitated in some way there are two others available to help me out. Similarly if one of my partners is injured, there is someone to help problem solve. On big routes, there are more people to do the work. With practice of the correct techniques, three does not have to be substantially slower than two.
– Make a trip to El Chalten a climbing trip, not a waiting trip. Take advantage of the local sport climbing and bouldering. It helps keep the psyche up and the boredom and frustrations down. Having two harness and pairs of shoes can be valuable. One in town, one in the mountains.
– For me, bring a partner. In any area, Sinks Canyon, Indian Creek, etc. I struggle with finding a partner or going climbing with people whom I may not know well. It is no easier in El Chalten. The objectives are bigger, the consequences higher and the entire process more intricate and involved. The commitment is greater. Bringing my own, trusted partner takes a huge load off my shoulders. That is beneficial as in this arena there are enough physical and metaphorical loads to carry as it is.
– It is possible for my Spanish to get worse, so practice. Being able to communicate what I need and understand what someone wants makes travel so much easier and enjoyable and like I wrote above, it is one less thing about which to stress.
– Find inspiration. Why do I climb? Tough question, but for me to climb I need to be inspired and sometimes that inspiration comes from my partners. Sometimes it comes from beauty. Sometimes it comes from challenge. Sometimes it does not come. Climbing without inspiration is going through the motions, it is doing something because I am supposed to or because I do not know what else to do. Find an inspiring objective or goal and feed it.
– Fit objectives to windows and conditions. Forcing my way up something because it is what I want to do can be like fitting a round peg in a square hole. If the weather I am given is a square peg, find the square hole that fits. Having a list of objectives of varying commitment and difficulty levels (and a reliable weather forecast) helps. Cache your gear with this in mind.
– Live life.