2015, Aisén, Avellanos, etc.

The Lessons: Part Vier (the viagra effect)

The expeditionary nature of this year’s excursion into the  Avellanos resulted in some pretty specific lessons, some that should probably have been obvious.

– Use a ration planning model.  Do not succumb to good enough or eyeballing.  Duh, that should have been obvious.  Matt did some math before we went to the Supermercado, but without good proportional divisions for meal/food types, it quickly fell by the wayside.  Buying the appropriate amount of food for three to four weeks takes more thought than we gave it.

IMG_0229
Never underestimate Mountain Hunger’s effect on the cookie consumption.

– Ask the right questions when looking for beta i.e. is the seven mile approach a good one to shuttle loads in on.  Only Dave had to bear the burden of knowing that the way he went last time was easier travel, though a longer distance.  We were seduced by the relatively accurate seven-eight hour estimate to the headwaters of the Ester Sur.  There were qualifiers for which we did not fish.

– Have a fully stocked camp to draw from.  Going back to town to get food is time and energy consuming.  Even if we had just brought the food from Coyhaique and then cached it near the trailhead, thus having to not take the time and energy to go into town, it would have been easier to both go get it and decide to go get it.

– Say thanks and pass it on.  This was my second major expedition with Dave.  I consider him a role model and mentor in this regard.  Making it a point to thank him and let him know that I appreciate being asked was a goal of mine.  Finding other ways to thank those who have supported me is important as well.  Passing it on means taking the lessons and experiences and use them to help others experience expeditionary climbing.

– Go on expeditions with people you like.  If you don’t things can go somewhat sour, somewhat quickly.

– Do not forget about bringing beta.  Even in an untracked/mostly undocumented area, there are still AAJ accounts, blog posts, emails, etc.  File them and use them. Do not rely on memory.  Approach beta is crucial too; just because someone was either on a non-technical trip, scouting, or got denied due to weather does not rule them out for good information.

Sometimes a map is all you get, sometimes not.
Sometimes a map is all you get, sometimes not.

– Expeditions are cool.  Do more of them, they are different and require different skills.  Carrying heavy loads long distances; that is what I am good at.  Hanging out and waiting, making food and hot drinks, working hard and all the other stuff that is required when I work, is second nature on a personal trip.  That leaves more energy for the climbing.

– Remember that expeditions beat up gear.  Bring the good, reliable stuff as well as supplies and an ability to repair things.  For me, there were no catastrophic gear failures this year and while I did do some general repairs on reliable gear due to wear and tear, I marveled at how some gear just plain works.  It is reliable and consistent and has been for years.

IMG_0377
The dependable load monster, key on any expedition.

 

 

– And finally, a lesson that was shown me again this year, though since I have been stymied by it before, I can not claim to have learned it, is to remember Patagonia’s Viagra Effect: everything is harder for longer in this part of the world.  In other words do not underestimate anything.  Be a pessimist.  It will be harder and take longer than you think.