News and Updates

Day 2 in Patagonia
Written by Tonya Clement   
Monday, 16 January 2012 00:00

p1160341dscn1228Vehicle Switch in Cerro Castillo


Today we wanted to take no chances so skipped the free hotel breakfast and headed to the airport early so as to make sure there was no risk of missing our flights to Coyhaique.  When we walked out of the hotel we were happy to see our TransVIP driver waiting for us.  Once at the airport, things went relatively smoothly.  Given that we were now on a domestic flight we worried we would be required to pay a second time for the excess baggage but we were never asked to do so.  

We met up with Brian and David and found a little breakfast place that served eggs and had a relaxing meal.  We all four got a bit excited when we arrived in our terminal and found a Starbucks.  Some of the delight deminished when we found the chai to be mostly water.

The Balmaceda airport things stayed smooth.  Our driver was waiting for us....most importantly all nine bags showed up!  Brad was more pleased to see that the driver had retreived our fuel that he had ordered and had shipped to the hotel that we were supposed to stay in last night. Jet Boil fuel can be hard to find in Chile so Brad reached out to the Chilean distributor, Andes Gear, who also happend to distribute Marmot.  

We took off in relatively short order our rest night at the Terra Luna Lodge.  We were told by the driver the trip would take 4 plus hours.  We were happy to stop shortly into the trip in a small town called Cerro Castillo.  We had a nice lunch that included beer, soup and chicken.  Both Brian and I passed on the chicken.  Somehow I have managed to avoid chicken since highschool.  In this little town we traded drivers (we removed the bags from the red truck and packed up the SUV) and got Gerome.....Gerome ended up being a blessing.  Turns out he was just on San Lorenzo, the mountain we were climbing, last week.  

When we pull into town Brad recognizes the name as the one in which we just learned to be Jim Donini's new home.  While buying eggs at the local market we had Gerome ask the store owner if she knew Jim. After some discussion she said she knew of him and believes he drives a blue or green SUV.  Gerome thought that Philipe, the owner of the Terra Luna Lodge, would know Jim and felt certain we could track him down. 

Jim Donini is just an amazing mountaineer who was with Malcolm Daly, the founder of Trango USA, when he had his serious fall in Alaska.  Jim's heroic efforts ended up saving Malcolm's life.  So Jim is someone many of us love and appreciate.  We only learned just days before our departure to Chile that San Lorenzo, our destination peak, was not to far from his residence.  His wife, Angela, was returning as we were departing.  Via email she informed us that the town had no internet but was hoping it would be turned on shortly after our arrival.  We had no real way to reach Jim but it became my personal mission.  Seemed easy given it was a town of 400-500 people.  

We loved our little cabin near the water.  The view from our window looked just like the Patagonia logo.  We enjoyed walking down to the water to stand and gaze out at the pillars of rock and the upper end of the Northern Ice Cap.  Our sleeping beds were all upstairs and there was a small kitchen downstairs and decks with views out every window.  After unpacking I went for a little walk up the road hoping to spot Jim's vehicle but really just to stretch my legs. It was a rough and long ride.  We had just spent a couple days getting to this point and we all felt a little beat up.  It was a hot and dusty ride so it was nice to be out in the fresh air.  

Over dinner we met a Swiss Guide and his girlfriend who had just returned from San Lorenzo with Gerome.  Turns out they had no summit success due to high winds and a severe melting.  They expressed concern that the path acrross the moat would melt away upon the return.   They also reported winds strong enough to shift their tent a few meters with them in it!  We enjoyed speaking to them as it turns out Patrick, the Swiss Guide, was on Everest the same year Brad was in 2008.  We also learned that Phillipe was a summiter also.  We found some joy in having four of together in one location and took the above photo.  

It was very nice of them to share their beta and they wanted to make sure we stayed in touch and reported back to them once we returned from the mountain.  Of course I went to sleep that night worried about everything they shared: steep headwall, extremely intense sunshine, high winds, rock fall, raging rivers, etc......