Ben Silvestre writes about his recent trip to Patagonia with Pete Graham, in January/February 2019. The pair enjoyed the typically Patagonian experience - a successful route on Cerro Fitzroy, a fickle weather window on Cerro Torre, and an opportunity to have some 'Type 1 fun' (climbing which is pure joy, whereas Type 2 is only fun afterwards. Type 3 is never fun!)

A week after landing in El Chalten, Pete and I set out to climb the North Face of Fitzroy, via the first half of Tehuelche, into the second half of El Flaco con Domingo.On the first day we climbed low angle flake and corner systems, and we were surprised to arrive at the Gran Hotel bivy with plenty of light to spare. The bivy was one of the best we had ever had, and we enjoyed a harness free sleep, after a beautiful sun set. The next day we climbed steep crack systems on perfect orange granite, but progress was slowed by the occasional icy wide section, and we reached the ridge after night fall. Having left our bivy gear at the Gran Hotel, we were forced to spend a few hours melting snow and shivering whilst we waited for the sun to rise - though we were grateful that it wasn't any colder, or we would have been forced to descend. Morning broke with astounding views of Cerro Torre, and we climbed quickly to the summit, before spending a full day descending Tehuelche, arriving at the base just as the weather broke.

Three days after returning to town, we set out with our American friend Tad to try and climb the West Face of Cerro Torre. The forecast was mostly good, but a small blip in the middle convinced us to make a backup plan. We decided to approach via the Marconi glacier, and walk out via the Paso del Viento, meaning that if we failed to climb the Torre, which was likely, we would at least complete a 50 mile circumnavigation of the entire range - a classic trek known as the Icecap Traverse. On the approach our fatigue was evident, and this factor combined with difficult conditions on the lower portion of the route meant that we were behind schedule from the get go. Arriving at the upper mixed pitches as the sun was coming round, we retreated to the Elmo to see if it might be a little safer climbing in the morning. Sadly, the blip turned into some fairly horrendous wind, and we descended. The following day we completed the icecap traverse, and even though we hadn't summitted, we all agreed that the outing was one of the finest experiences we had ever had in the mountains.

Thankfully, the following fortnight was free of good weather in the mountains, and we enjoyed some bouldering around town, slowly recovering from our efforts. In our final week, a low pressure weather window appeared, and we decided to do some fun climbing, having exhausted ourselves on the big stuff. We headed to the Marconi glacier, with our sights set on a small pinnacle known as Tito Carrasco. We had intended to climb the Cara Norte route, but the approach gully was full of aerated snow, so we started questing randomly up the rock, and climbed a few new pitches around existing lines. Not enough to be considered a new route, but a great and ultimately type 1 experience - and a great end to the trip.

Read more on Ben Silvestre's blog.