martes, 2 de junio de 2009

lunes, 11 de mayo de 2009

Pillàn Project account.

We arrived to Fiambalà after an all night trip. The road was quiet and the weather nice. Nothing worth mentioning, except for the great relief of being already on the way, leaving behind all trouble in the city.
Once in Fiambalà we found out that our friend and guide Jonson Reynoso went out with some tourists, so we had no choice but to wait. We wanted to talk to him and we needed to borrow his UFH radio. His daughter Ruth invited us to spend the siesta at Jonson's house. If someone has ever been in this area, they would know there's no choice but to get sheltered and rest at siesta time, otherwise the heat is unbearable. The truth is that once we set our minds on “mountain mode” it's hard to wait for something else, but it is a good exercise in patience.
Later that night, Jonson finally returned home. Of course we had decided by then to spend the night there. We enjoyed his good conversation and took advantage of his and his family’s hospitality by sleeping at their house.
The next morning we gathered all we needed and left for the mountains. We drove for a couple of hours to Cazadero Grande, the third shelter on the pass to Chile, by the road at 11000ft. We spent the night there to make acclimatization a little easier.
On Monday we drove south directly to the mountains. Ahhh , finally the mountains.
We had previously decided to set base camp at the regular site for Mount Pissis, and to make new advanced camps for both Pillàn and Pissis. The lack of snow or ice near the camp site is a problem, since it is the only source of water, but it is still the most appropriate site to place a base camp. We were all very happy to finally be in the mountains. On that night: one of the most beautiful star filled skies, good friends, the mountains…I couldn’t have asked for more.
On Tuesday morning we set up the UHF radio with it's big antenna, and after a few attempts Pablo got to talk to Edith, a school teacher from a distant little town in the hills called Rìo Grande. She would become our only contact with civilization. Edith would walk more than two hours to get phone signal so she could send text messages to Jonson, who would then post the updates to our website.
The weather was fine during the days until around five; then a storm would come everyday and last until almost the next morning.
The days were dedicated to training and scouting climbing routes for the surrounding mountains. On Thursday we took a nice long walk through a small ice field and climbed up to the point where we had a very good and clear view of Mount Pillàn. There, we found a route that we all agreed on and decided to go for it the next morning for a one-day climb attempt to the top. The plan was to leave base camp at first light, drive the truck to the North East base of the volcano, and start the climb as early as possible. We estimated a seven hour climb plus a four hour descent.
Because the weather turned bad around six everyday, we had a tight schedule and our rhythm should be strong if we didn't want to get caught in the middle of a storm at 18000ft.
We set the alarm for six in the morning, still dark, to have breakfast and to be ready to leave as soon as it got light. To get everything done took more than planned so we started a little late, which meant that we were going to have to speed up our pace once on the mountain.
We arrived at the base of Mount Pillàn (15000ft.) at around eight thirty and immediately started our climb.
The route began on a soft, loose volcanic stone field with a moderate slope. The ascent route seemed to be on a straight line passing behind an ice field to the half way point where the slope apparently diminished. After the ice field, the route faced Southwest and reached for the edge that led to the summit. The weather was nice. With the sun behind us and the clouds below, it would have been a pleasant climb if it weren't for the extremely loose stone ground.
Once in the middle of the mountain we realized that the diminishing of the slope was relative to our previous point of view, and that the summit’s edge was even more steep and extremely exposed to the winds. To avoid that, we changed routes and climbed in an almost straight line to the top.
With each meter we advanced, the slope got steeper and the rocks got bigger. By now we had climbed a continuous ascent for about four and a half hours with a 900 meter elevation gain. It was time to face the last slope to the top. From the North East face, we had no view of Pissis or the summit of Pillan; only a big steep wall made of huge grey boulders . The altitude, the prolonged effort, and the technical difficulty of this last part made it difficult to pass. It took us an hour and a half to get through the last 200 meters. After climbing the boulders, we finally reached the edge of the summit. Here we had a complete view of the crater and of Mount Pissis. From there, a less steep and firm grounded slope of fifteen minutes led us to the top of Mount Pillàn.
There we found the testimony of a group of climbers from Còrdoba, Argentina,who achieved the summit in 2005. They were the first team ever on the top of this volcano. Their route was made from the South-Southeast and with a high camp at 16000ft.
We wrote our names and a description of the route opened on the same paper that they left there, as the second team ever there, and then buried our summit testimony; a sculpture from the international artist K. A. Colorado.
This piece of art represents an ice core sample with the inscription Kyoto embedded, a reference to the Kyoto Protocol Treaty, which dictates international regulations for gas emissions and environmental issues. The imbedding of this piece was intended to represent ice and fire coming together. It is part of an art performance to be showed soon. As well as a statement of our shared belief in the relevance of these very important environmental issues.
The weather on the summit was great which allowed us to spend almost an hour there. We took pictures and shot a video of the imbedding and of all the surrounding area. We also drew a possible route for the way up to Pissis from the West. The way down was slow and exhausting, and a big storm caught us almost at the base, but we were already there, with a big smile in our faces from the satisfaction of a goal fulfilled.

I want to thank all our friends and family who helped us making dreams come true. Special thanks to Mary & Ken Colorado, Jonson Reynoso & his family, Edith, Naty, Nayu, Juanchi, Cèsar, Guille, Tuti, Hilacha, and Antrese: thanks for all you`ve done for us.

lunes, 4 de mayo de 2009

sábado, 2 de mayo de 2009

Ice Core Video

Jonson y Ruth Reynoso.

Agradecemos profundamente la colaboración y el apoyo de Jonson Reynoso y la hospitalidad de toda su familia.