Hiking in the Torre Valley – AKA carrying all of our gear around and not climbing anything.

Taking our climbing gear for a long walk. 

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1 kilometer down and many to go on the trail in to climb in the Torre Valley

While we have been down in Chalten there have been some small windows of good weather or “ventanas” but not enough to thaw the ice and allow enough time to get on bigger rock objectives.  Though primed and ready to get after the climbs of dreams we found ourselves setting our sights on smaller objectives that were less committing and in better condition while still enjoying some spectacular climbing in the grandest alpine arena in the world.

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The grand alpine arena

A short 2 day window of decent weather presented itself and Kelsey and I, always gluttons for punishment, packed for another expedition into the Torre Valley.  This time around was a two day trip and our sights set on Voie de Benetiers.  After hearing great things from our friends who had recently climbed it we were stoked enough to make the great scree sojourn once again.  We set off for what will turn out to be an exercise in exercise.

Our first trip into the Torre Valley took us about 8hrs from town to camp at Niponino and this time we made the trek against the flow of hikers returning from Lago Torre, around the lake, through the scree, and over the ice to victory in 6hrs.  Dropping 2 hrs was probably due to a combination of nailing the beta, more people having tromped the “trail” in and me no longer limping along with an injured calf.  We even got the primo spot on flat ground sheltered amongst huge boulders that our friends Jenny and Lorna had occupied the last time.  Feeling pretty good about ourselves and stoked about the climb tomorrow we chowed down and hit the hay.

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Back at Lago Torre again. The beta from here is definitely to stay low along the right side of the lake.

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Can you spot the trail?

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Piles of scree with some pretty awesome rock at the top.

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Much faster hiking once you hit the glacier.

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Our objective is the right side of Mocho (higher set of cliffs).  Camp Niponino where we are headed is located at the base of Mochito (lower set of cliffs) .

Temps were not warm but the wind was supposed to be low so we opted for a later and hopefully warmer start from camp at 7am.  We awoke to more wind and higher gusts than were originally forecast and a cloudier sky that gave us some pause.  We kept an eye on the sky during the 2ish hr approach which was a little trickier than the approach to Rubio Y Azul.   After the usual scree slog and some steep slab climbing that was running with water we made our way to the foot of the Mocho wall and the base of our climb.  The climb was quite enticing but the winds had been steadily increasing and there was now some serious looking clouds looming over the top of Cerro Torre and sweeping across the sky.  The decision was difficult but we decided to bail based on the information at hand.  We found a slightly easier path on the way down off to the left and did one 30m rappel off some old pitons down the steepest part of the slabs.

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Blue dot is Camp Niponino.  Right path is to Rubio y Azul and left path is to Voy De Benetiers.  Picture was taken from near the top of Chiaro Di Luna when Kelsey and I climbed it 5 yrs before.

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Red dots are where we went on the approach to Voy De Benetiers and the Blue dot was where we did one rappel and then scrambled down.  Approximations of course.

On our hike out the weather did not deteriorate as much as we thought it would and in retrospect we could have probably climbed our objective though the constant high winds with cold temps would have made it a pretty rough day. It was easy to feel a little down about how far we took our climbing gear for a walk but when you really think about it WHAT A PLACE FOR A WALK!!!

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Also you can reward yourself for your hard work with an “empanada” the size of your head!

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