January 9, 2012 — Friendships, new and old, that is what mattered today. It wasn´t weather, or long slogs, or heavy packs, money or lack of it. It was friendships. Morning mate sessions with the Brazilians, Irivan and Bonga, while cooking breakfast. Shooting the breeze with them and Carlyle, a Canadian climber we have befriended.
Later, schlepping loads up to a gear cache, Daren, Matt and myself are sprawled out at el mirador, lounging and breaking under the damp overcast skies. Jake and Eva wander up the trail on their way to Campo Bridwell to cache gear. More breeze is shot. Later we meet up for a leisurely and friendly mate session at Campo Bridwell. We pontificate on the state of climbing, ethics, and the seriousness of it all. The gourd is passed again and again and food is eaten. It is hard to leave, hard to shoulder the beasts and schlepp the load further but we have miles to go before we sleep. So onward and upward, across the tyrolean and into the maelstrom. We bring our food higher.
Back in town we eat sandwiches and I kick around a hacky sack with a multinational crew. Smiles are the same in any language.
“Hey, we are going out to dinner” Daren says gesturing to Matt. He looks at Carlyle, “you are welcome to join us.”
“Oh, I don´t know” she says fiddling with some stuff, moving them into her tent. “Oh, you know what, it has been a while since I have had a good meal. Yeah, I´ll come.”
“Jared, you coming?” Daren asks.
“Yeah, I´m in.”
We walk out to the road and turn right, eventually wandering into a restaurant on the north edge of town. We sit down and chat leisurely, fertilizing the seeds of new friendships, as her warmth and openess and smile are contaigous. Large meals of good meat and vegetables leave us satiated, yet hungry for more. We find our common bonds thicker and the desire for the mountains even stronger.
Back at camp, Cunningham walks in and the pieces fall into place. We leave for the mountains the next day.
(Note: As of this writing (1/18/12) Carlyle Norman is presumed dead on Saint Exupery in the Fitz Roy Massif above El Chalten. Rescue efforts were detered by poor weather and unsafe conditions. Her body has yet to be recovered.)