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Flashback:  June 2008.  I am walking down the long corridor at the NOLS Rocky Mountain Branch in Lander, WY.  For the first time in several months I see Josh.  He is walking towards me.  “Your mom called, she said to say hi” he greets.  ¨Turbio this winter?”  he queries.  ¨I´m in” I reply.  And with that the die was cast.

For me. I have to look back much further to locate when the die was truly cast.  Four months earlier, in the austral summer of ´08, I had visited Patagonia for the first time.  It was then that I first ate the plump, seedy,  and slightly sour berry of the calafate bush.   It was with this action that I truly cast the die, for it is said by the gauchos (local cowboys/frontiersman -both in the truest sense of the word) that whoever eats of this thorny bush is destined to return to Patagonia (as well as have teeth and fingers stained purple.)  And so here I am.

The expedition has had many incarnations.  It started with five folks, dwindled to two, grew to three.   Our current threesome was created in late November after we lost a member to the dissertation and completion of a PhD (climbing isn´t always the first priority.)   Josh and I traded emails, phone calls and yer mom jokes.  Was it still a go?  No se.  I was still in as was he but at that time the sum total of healthy ankles on the month long expedition was two.  We had to do something.  We needed mas personas.  What about Dave? 

I had just worked a month long course in the Red Rocks of southern Nevada with him.  Since I was the one with the two bum ankles and I was the one in Lander, it was my job  to find out.  I remember hobbling down the stairs of the Noble Hotel and running into Dave.  We discussed his upcoming move to SLC and then I breached the idea.  He said he would have to check it out, run some figures, board the cat, record his favorite shows, fix his broken bicep, etc.  I knew that he didn´t have a cat, that you can´t break a muscle, and he didn´t have a TV.  I knew he would be in.

From there, with Dave´s experience in planning and promoting expeditions as well as obtaining funding for them we shifted into high gear.  Of course I then promptly left to go to southern UT.  Dave moved to SLC and Josh was down in Bishop, CA and we all settled down into our own personal stage of a solidly entrenched dirtbag lifestyle.

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2000 hours. Estamos listos, mas o manos, with the exception of Josh’s visas and a few items Diego will bring by mañana. The food is repackaged and all the food and gear is divided into bags. We need the bags to be about 25kg each in order to facilitate the balanced loading of the horses.

Our lists are shorter. The butter is in a butter dish; the ramen is non existent and we are chugging coca cola like mad. We have one liter left to drink before we can fill the empty bottle with our stove fuel. Needless to say not only are my teeth rotting but I am all jacked up on caffeine.

Now night begins to fall and the weather is still splitter blue skies. The high pressure continues to prolong the areas drought and keep the stars visible at night. Orion is visible in the northern sky. He is slightly skewed to my northern perspective as he hangs the other way around in this hemisphere.

Now it is off to dinner and one final night in “civilization”

We still have a few things to wrap before boarding the bus tomorrow morning, but the packs are more or less loaded and ready to be loaded on the backs of horses at the terminus of the Rio Turbio Valley. I managed to put together a collection of video clips. Enjoy!  

http://vimeo.com/3366320

A new day dawns bright and loud in San Carlos de Bariloche.  Yesterday was a veritible bustle of activity.  In the am after a breakfast of media lunas, cafe con leche con azucar y berenjena quiche, we picked up our machetes and remaing fuel.  After making a list we hit the grocery store to buy lots of food.  Luckily the three of us are well versed in the ways of buying lots of food for long periods of time, as in our jobs as NOLS instructors it is often an integral part of working rock camps.  So there were only a few set backs:  not enough cheese, no dried fruit, no nuts, no lentils and no-oh my gosh….ramen.  But not to worry Barriloche is a city of many grocery stores and we quickly found what we needed.  A late dinner of grilled meats rounded out the day.

Today we pack. 

Our hostel La Bolsa de Deporte is designed nicely for the starting point of an expedition.  It is situated nicely within walking distance of many of the resources we require, a la la ferreteria, los supermercados; el correos; and most importantly, la parillas.  It is also conviently close to a store on Ave M. Eflein that sells and sharpens machetes.

Our list of things to do today is long and as Josh struggles with Visas for his upcoming trip to India, slowly getting longer…

To Do: Get a wrench; repackage and pack food;  pack gear; get paddles; get sat phone;  get visas…etc.  You know, little things.

 

In a land famous for it’s beef we ended the day by sampling some choice cuts

 

toilet paper and quail eggs

toilet paper and quail eggs

 

 

120 lbs of food for 20 days

It would seem the worst is over. I made it to Bariloche from Coyhaique without offending anyone too bad (at least to my knowledge) and without starving or ending up on the wrong bus. Even though I don´t speak a lick of spanish.

I arrived about 18 hours before Dave and Josh and had to check several hostels before finding one that had room. I was excited the following day to get an email from them saying they were at a hostel and were awaiting me.

After some chitchatting with our friend and fellow NOLS instructor, Diego, we headed out and took care of some errands, mostly buying machetes, getting them sharpened and buying fuel. We sorted a bunch of climbing gear and went to eat. It is good to be among friends and the anticipation is growing for the Pirate Valley. Today buying food.

 

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Jared buying (pirate) supplies them roaming the Streets of Bariloche, Argentina

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We knew we had found a good place when they had a climbing wall by the entrance

Screaming kids, fat guys leaning against you, no leg room, bad food-that you have to pay for, yup all part of the flying experience

Dave still making the camera blur after 24+ hours of travel

Dave still making the camera blur after 24+ hours of travel