I'll Be Gone for a Week.
I head back into Invernada tomorrow morning. I am really psyched to guide my first trip into this area. The last few days have mostly been focused on food preparation, with just a few loose ends to wrap up. We head in tomorrow and I can say for certain that I have never been so prepared for a trip. How prepared? The vegetables are already cut. I'm not kidding. I finally made the time and have organized the trip exactly as I think they should be. The food is dialed to the Calorie. We have a base camp stashed high in the valley. All the electronic devices are charging. Even my email is set to auto reply.
Back to the food. This was a huge effort. I believe that one of the fundamental components to a great experience in the mountains is eating well. While touring, staying fueled up makes all the difference in the world. Getting back to the tent and being forced to eat some shitty pasta is disheartening. We're going to eat well. There's no Whole Foods in Chile. You can't just go into the store and get a bunch of pre-prepared gourmet food to stuff in the pack. You either make it at home, from scratch, or you eat garbage. Sure, we've got a small supply of Clif Bar products, but there needs to be more. I've got rice bars, frittatas, burritos in the mix. At night we'll eat fish tacos and biryani, among other stuff. I think this will end up being the best I eat for a while.
Anyway, I'll be away from any sort of cell coverage or Internet service until Monday, September 9th. I've got a little satellite communication device with me and I can actually update the Facebook page with it. I probably will – check it out, you can see where we're shredding.
I'll post photos and stories as soon as I get back. For now, please forgive me, I'll be in the mountains, with no distractions, great food, great weather and an awesome cli
Caching a Future Base Camp
I just returned from a three-day trip to the Invernada area, in preparation of a guided trip that will happen at the end of the month. Like so many things in life, Invernada is fun and easy when its just a bunch of dreams and ideas. When the work begins, that's when the commitment really shows through. I am glad to know that I am still so psyched about this that carrying a few 60-pound packs, six-miles, and 4000-feet up into the mountains was actually pretty fun.
This project is about opening doors for others. Right now, skiing in this area requires a tremendous amount of work - in terms of preparation and then just straight up hauling big loads long distances. The skiing in this area is really good, but it's not epic. By this I mean there are no huge descents, it's not particularly high, and most of the terrain isn't steep enough to brag about. It's a perfect place for most people to ski. The problem is, most people can't get there.
I have no intention of turning this into a place that everyone can go. But what if I can take the bite of the expedition? This is the experiment for this year. When I return with the client, we will be able to tour in with the type of load that is typical of a hut trip in Colorado. If it works, then the even more difficult work begins. If it doesn't, well, I got another opportunity to ski a beautiful place that few know of. As we say in Chile: a ver.
The first set of bags are packed. I have spent the week preparing for my first guided trip into the Invernada area. I will do something I have never done before – haul gear into the cordillera in advance and establish a base camp. This has been a fun challenge because it requires so much forethought. I can't tell you how many times I have created, revised and checked the lists of gear to go in first.
The goal is simple. I want to create a very "livable" environment for the client, but not require that we carry 80-pound packs to get in. Eventually I'd like to see even better structures designed for accessing the Andes, and this is just the beginning of that process.
Maybe someday I won't be the mule. For now, I am thrilled to feel so attached to something. It's fun to embark on a project without a known outcome. We'll see how I feel after a few days of hauling huge packs into the cordillera.
I will be back on Monday evening. In theory, I should be able to update the Chile Powder Adventures Facebook page from the field, but if that doesn't happen, it's not because something has gone wrong. I am using a new device and social media will take a backseat for a few days. Have a good weekend!
Today was my third day in Santiago. Sunday was spent visiting friends; Monday was very rainy and I spent it writing and taking care of other stuff on the computer; today I went into the city to get some basic errands done, including a trip to buy maps for the coming season.
Buying maps in Chile is not like the experience we are accustomed to in the States. It is a far cry from the quaint gear shop, which also serves coffee and would make you want to stay all day except for the privileged kid tending the counter and serving up attitude about someone with a different ethic. In Chile, the best source for real maps in the Instituto Geografico Militar. It requires a journey of taxis and the subway to the center of the Santiago. This is the part of Santiago where they can't polish the turd, they can't mask the grim in sheets of glass attached to high-rise buildings, the place where coups have taken place and demonstrations are held. It's definitely not a commercial for Starbucks.
I used to have a romantic vision of my time in busy, old cities of the developing world. I felt as if I was traveling to the "heart" of the city. Now I see the bowels as well as the heart. And much like my own bowels, it's not always fun to think about; but I do want them to be happy and healthy, even if it's tough at times. The dark places of our soul and cities aren't often photographed, but they are real, and shouldn't be ignored.
I don't necessarily enjoy my time in the city any longer. I can't wait to get into the mountains. Yet this challenge is an important part of why my time here feels right. It's not easy. And I go into the mountains a better person, because I am forced to be so - or be blind to reality.
Finding the maps I need among the old, huge, leather bound books is the easy part, and even if it is a military office, there's a little romance to it. I always take a little extra time to browse other parts of the country – places I only dream about so far. But eventually I leave, to pass through the city, eventually on my way to the mountains. It's been a good day. Not easy; but good.