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Published: November 2nd 2014
Snow stops progress on the Expedition
We are well under way with our Patagonia Expedition, with the bikes arriving on time along with the riders on Monday.
We had the bikes cleared by Tuesday afternoon and we were on the road by Wednesday on the long drag down the Pan Pacific Highway to Talca.
We were headed off from Talca in Chile, with our destination, Malague in Argentina, via Maule o Pehuenche but after 160 kms we were forced to turn back because of a massive snow dump during the night, it was going to take a couple of days to clear it.
Back tracking to Talca, we decided to head further south in Chile to Victoria, sleep over there and go through Paso Pino Hachardo and directly to Zapalla.
So after and eight hour day and 640kms we reached Victoria.
The next morning we woke to 4 deg and a ride through the Andes. There was no drama and customs clearance, both in Chile and Argentina went without a hitch.
Today we woke up to a light dusting of snow, as we were heading further south to Bariloche, we all layered ourselves with
Fresh fuel for the motos
Gerardo tops up all the tanks with fresh fuel
all our warm and waterproof gear and hit the road.
Gerardo had got information that the storm has hit the whole area, with all air and bus transport suspended into or out of Bariloche.
We then made the decision to cut the day short, as we were riding in snow and sleet with temperatures down around -4 deg Celsius, couple this with the wind chill and it was BLOODY cold out there.
The brightest decision I have made in a long time was to buy a heated jacket that fits under my riding jacket, as I was a warm as toast in these extreme conditions.
We then made a dash for Junin de Los Andes cutting the ride to Barilache by 200kms
By the time we got here, everyone was relieved to get off the bikes.
Here is David's observation of the Expedition so far:
Today we got underway on the motos. It has been eagerly anticipated. There were a few getting itchy right hands by now. Jack and David took a quick ride up to a lookout behind the city, the Pacific looked great. It was a straight forward run today, Vina
Del Mar to Talca, 375km. Sealed highway all the way.
The speed limit is 120km/hr most of the way so a few itches were scratched. Gerardo took point with Rosco and chase truck following up the rear looking out for stragglers. The KTM just eats up the tarmac, an extra 20+kg of on-board luggage making no difference at all. Not a lot of traffic on the roads out of the cities, mostly commercial vehicles.
We passed through half a dozen toll stations, which are very common here. Due to a slight misunderstanding, and timing, Jack took-out a barrier arm, kiwi style, no damage, just a bit of amusement.
The landscape was very green, km’s of vineyards a lot of the day.
Talca is a good size town that was devastated by the 2010 earth quakes that hit Chile. This town was the worst hit town in Chile with up to 80% of the buildings damaged. There are still a lot of empty shells of buildings and cleared lots around. However Talca still has a nice feel to it. The hotel is ‘very new’ and comfortable with a complimentary Pascoe Sour’s……..
The next day started out
as a straight forward 325km run. Over the Andes through the Paso Pehuenche (9,000 ft approx.) and into Argentina. Great ride out of Talac up past a large lake with a hydro power station on it. Very good soil, lots of farming and crops. Over time a lot of nutrients must have washed down from the Andes and to date all of the western coast has a lot of agriculture.
Getting into the gorge leading up to the pass the roads were excellent quality sweeping corners and getting tighter as we climbed up. It has been excellent having the maps in the GPS. All these roads are unfamiliar, obviously, but a quick glance at the screen lets you know what corners are coming up and how sharp and long they are.
Many thanks to Bro in law Michael for loading these for me. As we got higher the rock walls along the road became shear with lots of rocks falling onto the road. Most were stopped by barriers and wire nets but still a few to dodge as we came around corners. Blue skies and hardly any traffic…. In fact only work trucks going the same way as
On our way to Argentina (not)
us and nothing coming the other way…. We reached the top of the pass and were greated with a semi frozen lake and enough snow to hold the winter Olympics. Temp was 1 deg C.
The road appeared to have been cleared with some snow banks on the road side well over 5m high. In places only one lane was clear. As we thought we were starting to descend the road came to an end, well the road didn’t but with 3m of snow piled up meant it was a u turn for us. Great, we got to see all the spectacular scenery all over again, from a different angle,all part of the adventure.
Back down the hill and a regroup for lunch down in the valley. Gerardo and Rosco redrew the plan and we were going to go a further 300km down Chile and stay a night in Victoria and try a lower pass the next day. These guys were great, old hotel cancelled, new hotel booked, back on the Rocky Road Adventure!
Back onto Ruta 5 from Talca. Speed limit is suggested at 120 km/hr and the outside lane is for passing only, which everyone
sticks to. It works well. I don’t know what Gerardo had his cruise control set to on his BMW, but the clock on the KTM was showing ten to two and we weren’t making much ground on him. The KTM does keep good time though…. Something like 680km for the day finished by sitting in front of the fire with pizza and beer, life is good. Everyone sleeped very well that night.
We tried again to get to Argentina today, and succeeded. Some of us me included had been reminded yesterday that the higher you go the colder it gets. Rule of thumb every 1000 ft you go up expect a 2 degree drop in temp. For example yesterday’s temperature range was 22 deg down to 1 deg at the top of the pass. I put on another layer (merino wool shirt) and a balaclava. I didn’t pull out my secret weapon, heated vest, just yet, but Rosco did, the smart man. I didn’t suffer but what I can say is: heated grips… ‘like , like’.
Again, fantastic roads for bikes heading up to the pass, snow all over the mountains. Not as high as yesterday so it
Looks like we have a problem
Massive snow caused us to turn back.
was more a dusting we rode through, rather than 5m snow drifts of yesterday.
Boarder crossing’s takes time but Gerardo knows the ropes and interprets if there are any issues. Coming down the other side it is a different landscape, ‘vast’ is the best word to sum it up. Still quite green with farms, eg beef, along the river flats. It appeared less populated than what we had seen in Chile so far. Onto our hotel at Zapala, and back on schedule.
We were due to go to San Calos De Bariloche today some 350kms to the east. However we woke to small flurries of snow out the window.
It hasn’t snowed here since July we were told by a local. What to do. Gerardo and Rosco suggested we make a run for Junin de los Andes which was about half way and hopefully the weather would improve, if not stay here.
All agreed let’s get on Ruta 40 and see what happens. It’s time to get fully layered up, heated vest included. It proved to be very necessary as it blew, snowed and sleeted all the way. When we left it was 4 deg but
got to -4 deg along the way. Cross winds and foggy visors made for an exciting 2 hours. Everyone had their full wet weathers on so we all arrived dry, relatively, and just a bit cold in the extremities.
Ripper (Russell) had received the great news that his first granddaughter had finally arrived, some 10 days overdue. We celebrated with him with a late lunch with the smoothest red wine that you can only get in Argentina at a local restaurant. Followed by sitting around the fire for some good old fashion story telling.
Tomorrow may be a bit clearer later in the day so maybe we can get to San Calos de Bariloche then.
Don't forget to check us out and 'Like' us on Rosco's Rocky Road FaceBook. I am doing more regular updates there. Cheers, Rosco
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