La Vida de Chalten

A typical day here in beautiful Chalten, Patagonia begins, for me, around 10am. I often resolve to waken earlier, go for a morning jog, and generally be more productive. Late nights, though, and a comfortable bed always conspire to keep me asleep til the sun is already gaining ground in the northern sky.

Photo by Cheyne Lempe

For the last two weeks, since we’ve returned from our last climb, the weather has been rather Patagonian. That is to say, not so great. Not truly bad here in town, but enough precipitation and gale force winds in the mountains to preclude all but the most masochistic from considering mountain climbing. So, for me and the other climbers stationed here for the season, a routine has developed, the main goal of which is boredom avoidance.

Carlito, Gordo, Troutman, and Gabby. The three Argentines, from San Juan, and some of the best young climbers on this continent, and to Troutman's delight, know all the best fishing spots!

Upon waking, I’ll typically wander from our bunkroom in a sparsley furnished trailer into the main house, home of the family from whom we are renting. I consider our dwindling coffee supplies, and usually opt to make Mate, a South American herbal tea chock full of caffiene. Once my mind is finally ready to process thoughts, my friend Cheyne or I will sally out to the corner market to purchase eggs, freshly baked bread, and fruit; all the ingredients of a filling, nutritious, and cheap breakfast/brunch.

Now for the real start of the day: making laps. Chalten is not a big town, it’s possible to walk across the whole place in ten minutes. The town was carved out of the Glacier National Park just thirty years ago, and only 130 acres were alloted, so everything is kept pretty quaint. So, we leave the house and walk, often encountering friend on the same program within a block or two.

“What are you guys up to today?”
“Dunno, no plans”
“Checked the weather yet?”
“Yeah, looks like shit”
“Wanna go bouldering?”

Photo by Cheyne Lempe

Pads are procured, mostly thanks to our friends staying at the plush Centro Alpino, which come stocked with all the necessities. Pads double as sails as we walk into the wind, towards the boulders, provided a nice warmup.

Chalten, while known internationally for it’s proximity to the mega mountains of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, is also home to some pretty epic granite blocs. Big ones, the kind that make me think of broken ankles and ruined trips. But with enough pads and spotters, I finally have been enjoying bouldering, and it’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. Soon, though, fingers are shredded and arms pumped, and it’s time to hike back, now with the wind at our backs.

Now, all thoughts turn to dinner!

Kate and Lisa assemble empanadas! Photo by Cheyne Lempe.
A farewell party for a pair of superhuman crushers. Photo by Cheyne Lempe.
Hanging with my friend Daniel at a victory asado!

My favorite of late has been pizza, a cheap and delicious way to pass the time! (I just added a simple pizza dough recipe in the comments section, below). Any excuse will be embraced to have a dinner party, be it a victory celebration for a climb, a farewell dinner for a friend headed home, a welcome feast, birthday party, whatever. Accompianed by ample litros of cerveza, and maybe some cheap red wine, every fiesta is a success!!

Then, we go to bed, dreaming of the mountains!