The triumph of Fitzroy


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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Chaltén
February 28th 2018
Published: March 7th 2018
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Fitzroy is the dominating peak on the skyline, the most challenging ascent of the Torres Massif. Our feelings about the prospect of scaling it were not exactly aligned given previous experiences. The trek is 8 hrs and the final hour is 400m ascent in 1km. Jan was keen to prove that she’s not a wettie, but wasn’t sure she’d make it. Pete was looking forward to the day but with some anxiety about Jan’s response to the challenge. The cop out plan was that Jan would wait at the bottom of the final ascent, but she’d have to be semi conscious for that to happen and may have become a bit tetchy.

The weather was perfect. Some high light cloud cover and no wind. The latter is important in these parts. The day after the climb it got windy and became difficult to walk in a straight line on the pavement in the gusts, rendering it impossible to get up the higher sections safely. High cloud was good as it protected us from the sun and kept the temperature down, but didn’t obscure the peaks which are in cloud the majority of the time.

The first part of the ascent was through beautiful woodland alongside a river of clear slightly blue glacial water. We got glimpses of the mountains across the valley through clearings in the woodland. Jan was full of beans and going like a train, unusually able to look around and enjoy the views. We got to the foot of the final climb in good shape and ahead of schedule. The trail rapidly emerged above the tree line and became rocky and steep. Jan was still able to enjoy the views which gradually enlarged.

We got to the top in fine form; she's a plucky gel is Jan. Great view from the top, probably one of the best views I have ever seen. We didn't even leave it at that, as there was a view to bag down and round a bit from the top of the path which revealed another lovely view of a glacial lake.

We spent an hour at the top in still air revelling in the view and smug to have got there with happiness en route.

The walk down was unremarkable and dragged a bit at the end so we were elated to get back into El Chalten for a large pot of tea each before calling a cab to get us back to the estancia.

Top gel my wife.

And on this occasion, remarkable though it might seem, my enjoyment and memory of the day is the same as Pete’s. Perhaps I am becoming a trekker? Now that would simply be ridiculous. But we overtook so many people that we had to introduce some rules into the game. Obviously if you overtake someone when both parties are walking then it’s an obviously a point to you. But if you overtake someone when they are having a rest, then that is a point to you unless they subsequently overtake you. Of course this means that you have to remember everyone who you have overtaken and also means that you have to remember two possible totals for the day. I tried to devise a cunning mathematical formula that would help me remember and even wondered if I had finally stumbled upon a use for that silly thing that is the quadratic equation where one equation has 2 possible answers. Confirmation from all the maths whizzes amongst family and friends would be appreciated.

And one final thought from me before we leave the Triumph of Fitzroy. ...please consider what YOUR reaction would have been, when the Ranger who was briefing us on the trek said “the last kilometre is very difficult and should not be attempted in bad weather. ........but (looking directly at you) is NOT impossible”. Would your reaction be:

1.“Hooray it sounds great let’s get going”....or

2.“Forget it, it’s obviously impossible, that woman is trying to save my life”......or

3.Something in between?

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8th March 2018

Neither because I SO WOULDN'T even BE there
Interesting how 'overtaking' has been featuring large in the last 2 blogs - obviously a point of some importance. Should everyone on the roads of Buckinghamshire tremble in future and just get out of the way of the mad woman behind them (but only for a short while.) The background in that pic of 'Jan the mountain goat' (unnecessarily mean but better than a buffalo, I suppose) is utterly fantastic - are you sure you haven't just photoshopped Jan in front of it and really she's sitting in a hot tub drinking hot-choc at the estancia? The arty shot is QUITE good but would have been much better with a whale in it. Obviously. (Presumably Fitzroy is that same Vice Admiral Fitzroy who was the captain of The Beagle with Darwin and invented forecasts? Or possibly Pablo Fitzroy who just found that mountain). Great blog! Though have you not eaten anything? Pxxx
17th March 2018

Take it as a challenge!
Just catching up and having lots of laughs as I can hear you saying every word! Xxx
17th March 2018

Catching the photography bug!
Great shot! Looks like you may be catching the photography bug... We'll get a spreadsheet going to try and solve the overtaking formula problem

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