BD grassroots athlete Hayden Kennedy reports on his trip to Patagonia
Black Diamond grassroots athlete Hayden Kennedy made another trip down to the iconic spires of Patagonia in early 2011 and managed to add a couple more summits to his tick list. Below is the email and photos he sent us shortly after he returned Stateside.
From: Hayden Kennedy
Subject: Re: Patagonia!
Date: March 15, 2011 11:23:04 AM MDT
Hey, I just got back to Colorado after a super fun trip to Patagonia. The weather was great and the conditions were perfect. My friend Jon Gleason and I arrived in El Chalten on Jan 27th and were psyched to the max!
Our first climb was the classic Pillar Rojo (Red Pillar) on Mermoz (650m 5.11+). The climbing was on flawless red granite with Indian Creek type splitters the entire way. It was so nice that we climbed the whole route in R1 Hoodys and nothing else… it felt like Yosemite! After we climbed the Pillar Rojo we climbed the Brenner Ridge on Aguja Guillaumet (350m 5.10).
It was a great two days of climbing in the mountains. We went back to town and enjoyed some great food and fun nights. I turned 21 this year so I was super psyched—you can’t put a price on morale. Chalten also offers some really rad bouldering, which is a great way to break up the alpine climbing and keep strong. There is always a good crew of people to boulder with and it’s really cool to climb with locals and see all the new problems. Last year during my stay in Patagonia the town seemed much smaller and this year the town has really grown and there is a really core group of local people as well as visiting climbers. It is great to see Argentines getting psyched to climb.
We rested up and saw that there was a huge window in the forecast, one of the times when Patagonia goes off! We hiked up to Piedras Negra with 3 days worth of food and gear. Our goal was to make the 5th ascent of the Care Bear Traverse, first climbed by Freddy Wilkinson and Dana Drummond in 2008. The route starts on the Brenner Ridge on Aguja Guillaumet and climbs all the way to Fitz Roy. The ridge itself covers about 3,500 vertical feet of terrain with many sub summits on the way. It seemed like an obvious climb for us because we knew the Brenner, we had climbed Mermoz, and the weather looked good. Starting the Brenner Ridge was really exciting and the morning light was spectacular. Jon and I climbed fast and summitted the Brenner Ridge in 1:20. and were on the summit of Mermoz in another 5 hours. The climbing was varied and for the most part the rock was good. There were some interesting sections on the ridge that made us think, but it was just a blast. On the south summit on Mermoz our ropes got super stuck in a flake during some rappels. It was really scary because we didn’t have any rope and we were in the middle of nowhere on this ridge. I tied into the 40 feet of 6mm static that we had, climbed up to the flake, and then aid climbed some thin cracks to get to our rope. The rope was totally worked and had three really bad core shots. That night we slept on this small ledge and talked about the rest of the climb. The next morning we climbed to the base of the North Pillar on Fitz, but the ropes were done and we had to bail. It was hard to go down when we were looking at two thousand feet of perfect granite cracks but if alpine climbing was easy everyone would do it. It was truly a quality adventure and both Jon and I learned a lot. Don’t ever climb with a 9.2mm rope in the alpine every again!
The rest of the trip was fun with lots of bouldering and sport climbing. Patagonia is a special place and I can’t wait to go back.