VIDEO: BD athlete Drew Stoecklein explores the unskied peaks of Patagonia
Black Diamond athlete Drew Stoecklein headed down to South America in September to explore the bounty of unskied peaks in Patagonia. Below is his report and a great video he edited together, as well as some sweet photos by Jason Thompson.
This fall I had the opportunity to go down to Patagonia to generate an athlete filmed segment with three others: Chuck Mumford, Forrest Coots, and Jason Thompson. After months of planning and thousands of borrowed dollars (generously lent to us by Visa and American Express) we purchased our plane tickets and set off into the unknown.
After we arrived in Patagonia, we realized that it might not have been a good idea to shoot our first film in a country thousands of miles from home, and with a group of non-Spanish speaking skiers. We also didn’t consider the challenge of trying to capture footage on an expedition in one of the harshest environments in the world. There was nothing that we could do except give it our best effort and set our sights high.
Getting all the gear up to basecamp was nothing short of a nightmare. There must be a reason that most people use a small point and shoot camera and don’t lug in 4 DSLR cameras, 4 helmet cameras, 1 video camera, 3 tripods, 1 six-foot aluminum crane, 1 three-foot motorized dolly system, solar panels, and a laptop computer. After two brutal days of hiking all the gear into basecamp, and it was finally time to start skiing and exploring the area.
For the first couple of days we tried and tried to ski some big lines in the area, but the weather just kept on denying us time and time again. We attempted to get a grasp on the weather from the reports we downloaded, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. The only thing we could conclude about the weather in Patagonia is that every day we could expect gale force winds combined with some sort of precipitation, generally in the form of snow, sleet, grapple, or rain.
For 13 days we took a stab at conquering new lines, but ended up rarely succeeding in capturing it on film. The magnitude of the terrain and the harsh weather, made it very difficult to capture the skiing element of the trip. At the end of every day we recorded interviews in the tent expressing our feelings about Patagonia, and our decision to film in this area
As we woke up on our second to last day, we were blessed with one single bluebird day. That day we put our hiking legs into overdrive and ended up crushing multiple extremely aesthetic couloirs that most likely have never been skied. There was an immense feeling of accomplishment that fell over the group as we returned to our camp. All it took was one quality day of skiing to make us forget about the horrible weather and hardships we had incurred over the days past.
The next morning we packed up our gear in a blizzard and set out on our long trip back home. Our packs felt like we were carrying small houses on our backs. Just when we reached the dirt and strapped our skis and boots to the mass of gear on our backs, Patagonia decided to turn the blizzard into a monsoon as a going away present. As we trudged down the dirt road, Patagonia tried one last time to pound us into the ground with cat- and dog-sized raindrops.
Three hours late and 10 miles later, we meet up with the cowboy that was supposed to pick up us at the trailhead. The cowboy looked at us in amazement—we were actually still alive. We packed up our gear on the horses and headed back to town. Completely exhausted and soaked to the bone, we packed up and focused on the trip home.
Looking back on the trip it was an incredible experience trying to create a film down in Patagonia. We captured some great footage of our travels and adventures down south and came home with some incredible memories. It’s a disappointment that we only were graced with one day of incredible skiing, but in the end its not always just about the skiing, it is about the adventure.