As many have heard, I've been presented with this years Guy Lacelle award. Guy was a friend, climbing partner, and mentor to me. Guy's psyche, modesty, and blissful approach had a strongly influenced me, and I found his achievements were incredibly inspiring. I'm deeply humbled and honoured that the award committee feels I share a similar attitude and values. The news came as a surprise email, completely out of the blue, and I'm overwhelmed it's been given to me. Apparently, I'm to receive some gear form his sponsors Petzl, Arcteryx, and La Sportiva.
Guy leading the second pitch of Les Miserables WI6+
I certainly carried his spirit as I attempted various new mixed lines in the Canadian Rockies this fall, with varying successes. There were some sweet sends, and as usual, some projects have been put on hold until next year, with high hopes of having more attemps to complete them.
R. Slawinski avoiding unprotectable thin ice via mixed corner in the Canadian Rockies, during the anual fall time new routing binge
As I write, I'm between missions amongst the imfamous Torres of Argentine Patagonia. Guys spirit, amongst others are definitely present. Colin Haley and I are partnered up and have climbed two alpine routes in the last week or so, and we're now packing for the next one. The first adventure we had was up the Guillot gully on the east face of Aguja Guillaumet. It was generally an easy climb, with about 8 belayed pitches, but it felt pretty intense in high winds and cold conditions. It's amazing how subtle changes in conditions or weather can make an easy route suddenly feel very real! It was especially cool for me to reach a summit I had never been to, on a day that we were likely the only climbers to even bother leaving the valley that day, and within 48 hours of being here. 2300 meters of steep up and down, in 18 hours round trip from town had the legs screaming for days! I suppose it was good training... Some more pics can be found here on Colin's blog.
Our second alpine climb was Toboggan, a 700-meter mixed route that ends at the Col de Suenos between Cerro Stanhardt and Punta Herron. We had hoped to make the first integral ascent of this by taking it to either of the above mentioned summits, but the super rimed-up pitches above the col looked uninviting, out of condition, and at 8 pm, the night wasn't far off. Had we had slightly better conditions, I think we might have gone for it through the night but prudently we opted otherwise. As it turns out, we did what was likely the second ascent of the route and the first free ascent. Most of the route being thin ice climbing up slabs, chimneys, and corners, with rock gear for protection. Upon returning to town, we found out from Rolo, that we likely had considerably more ice than him and SIlvo on the first ascent in 1999. All and all, it was a fun and worthwhile outing and took nearly 25 hours round-trip from our camp at Niponinos.
Colin approaching the Torres! Cerro Torre on the left, Torre Egger and Punta Herron in the middle, and Cerro Stanhardt on the right.Tobogan follows the gully / chimney system just right of the hanging glacier part way up Torre Egger.
Colin coming up a slab of neve about halfway up the route.
Colin heading entering cruise control up another chimney laced with good ice
Some sport climbing and bouldering has been keeping our blood flowing and fingers strong in the days spent in town between weather windows. It seems like all the climbers in Chalten are getting a better than average Xmas window, so hopefully there'll be more cumbres to write home about soon!
Tony Richardson sending Chimango, a fun 7a amongst the Madsen Boulders, Chalten
As good as it is here, I can hardly wait to start shredding the super deep pow at home in three weeks time!