Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cordon del Plata

I decided to take a 5 night side trip in th emountains while i wait for Steve to arrives as i finished well ahead of my origional schedule .

I went camping at 4200 m in the Cordon del Plata ( cord of silver) mountains .

Litlle did i know that the weather was going to turn and even th elocals were very suprised at the sudden storm that brought hail , snow and rain .

I stuck it out at camp Salto ( 4200 m ) and on the second last day with a a clear sky but a few inches of snow on the ground  i trekke dup to camp hoyyado ( 4600 m ) with 4 others who had stuck it out at Salto .

Nestor , Lucas and there freind were going to try fopr peak vallecitos (5300 m) , richard ( no me ) was going to see if he could get to 5000 m and  i was just going to tag along until at least hoyyado .

At hoyyado i decided to turn back as i was th eonly one wearing new ballance running shoes with home made wire crampons and i thought my toes were going to fall off .

Richard offerred to come down with me but i said i would go it alone and my crampons worked like a charm . ( they eventually fell to pieces th enext morning but had served there purpose.

below are a few photos with captions .

Nestor examining my tent at first camp ( las vegas) at 3200 meters

thats where i am heading 

A cross at Piedre grande ( big stones) at 3600 m 

nice a misty at Piedre Grande 

My tent in the foreground and the other Richard whom i met on th emountain in the back ground 


not so cloudy 

Arrival at Camp Salta  4200 m 

weather looks like it might turn , i dunno i am not a expert .

and turn it did , wind , hail , snow and rain all in one night , this  was the paterrn for the three nights at salto

Loving it 

My home made crampons that would get me to hoyyado at 4600 m 

every body who was in camp salta including a priest , straight after this picture they all descend except fotr 5 of us 

more crampons , the guys in camp loved them .

At camp hoyyado 4600 m

mucho snow

me in my proffesional mountain gear .

Sh....t my toes are cold ...brrrrrr

what a view 

Changing weather

 Cordon del Plata  at camp salto

this is how fastthe weather can chnage , thisis real time , ( file is quite big  ).

not sure how thisiwill work out as i have never posted a video before

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reaching the mountain

while reading this 


So after  a great time with Anna and Giles in malague i headed off for El Sosneado after which  i had a section to do of about 170 km with the first half having no peopel or farms or water so i sytocked up well . I met a english couple at El Sosneado , dave and sarah , they had just finished the route 101 and said it was pretty tough on bike but for me the second half would be ok as there was water and a few farms just after half way .

Slogging through the desert

DAve and Sarah at El Sosneado
Th egoing was tough butit was good , the frst night i just camped next to the road. The wind hwled and sleeping did not come easiñy , i got up a few times in th enight and went out to look atthe starts and the sky , it was amazing , the constellations were out in full force for my viewing .

next morning as i put my hand out my tent something made me look , and i am lucky i did as i was surrounded by nasty looking scorpoins , about 10 of them were around my tent and pram , how i had not stepped on one in th enight during my start gazing i willnever know .
Scorpoin swaiting outsside tent
 Sunrise the next moring was as spectacular as any i have seen as th esun rose just behind an unknown volcano , it took my breath and i have about 100 pictures of the same view .
Sunrise on route 101 ( old route 40 ) 

Any one have a drink ?
 It turned out to be a pretty hot and cloudless day so i felt every ray of the sun all day as i worked my way through a 60 km day . I eventually reached teh half way pòint at La jaula by the rio Diamante and stopped at a house for water . I was treated to so good country hospitality and given pasta and tea for lte lunch .  i eventually left at about five and found a willow tree next to the road about 8 km on and camped there for the night .
Carlos and his brothe rat La Juala

Skipping ahead a few days i was on the road from San jose to Potorelios when it started to rain and it poured .
i got to a river which had flooded the road , it was only just below knee deep at the depest point but flowing quite strongly across the road so i decided to cross and it was not so bad , the pram got tugged abit by the flow but not to sserious .

After crossing a car arrived from the opposite dorection and a french family stopped and the driver and i had a discussion about if his little car woul dmake it or not , I had seen no othe rtraffic all day so did not have a referenc epoint of rhim .
Eventually we both agreed that if it was our own cars we woud not try crossing however his wasa rental car and had insurance so he would give it a go .

Three hours later we eventually managed to get his car out of the river and back to where he started as he had got badly stick within a few metere of entering the water .
nice road hey

Phew made it
I camped that night on the roadside outside a farm house , the farmer did not seem to mind that i had camped outside his gate and it gae me a sense of secutrty knowing that some one was close by , i must be getting soft ..:)

Life took a turn for the more stressful after Potorilios as i now had to follow route 7 to my final destination at Aconcagua . At least two and a bit days away .
Route / is teh internation l highway between  Chile and Argentina and the traffic was a night mare .
big trucks and buses zooming by with in inches of me .

I stopped at  river rafting company in the middle of no where and the owner said they all left at about 7 in th eevening but i was welcome to camp and use the showrs and the pool . so I had a good rest before heading for Uspallata the next day .

I had a call from an argentine number and was suprised when it turned out to be Anna and Gilles . I had left a coule of notes on route 101 for fun and they had found them and were just phoning to say hi and see how things were .

En route to Uspalalata i met Alesandro , he was complaining about the traffic as much as i was , . He had cycled tis route in the 90´s and said it was awesome them conpared to now .
  i had to pass through 14 very noarrow tunnels on route 7 ,  some were only  50 or 100 m so i waited ofr a gap in th etraffic and ran my heart out to get through before the next truck came barreling along .

I wa son about the 8th tunnel where i was in th etunnel and traffic arrived , it was not fun , not fun at all .

After that i started find ways around the tunnels by using th eold tunnels or the old railway track tunels but some of these would be blocked at the exit end  but it proved quite an adventure finding ways through .
Using the old road and the railway tunnels
 I spent my last night before aconcgua at Los Penitites and camped out side a hostel .
i was infuriated by tthe hostel owner , Martin , who had quite clearly told me that it was 15 peso to camp , thisi s very cheap but considering i was caming on stones and thorns i was happy to paty it ( most camping is between 20 and 40 pesos ) . how ever when it came time to pay Martin insisted that he had said 50 and not 15 .  i decide not to argue and jsut let it go but it left  bad taste in my mouth , this and on my ñast day . f..cker !!
My swiis friends
 on Th eup side i met a swiss couple who we busingthere wat around south america and a few other countries in the world and they were good company and kew alot about the area . i enjoyed the company and let my frustrations with Martin go .

Next morning i set off for the last 12 km , I went fairly sowly and had tears in my eyes when i got my first view of the mountain , the mountains that i had seen up until which i had thought may be aconcagua , were not butnow i was certain and it was spectacular .
I paid teh 10 pesos park fee for a being allowed to the rangers hut and proceeded the last 1 km up the hill .

It was a far cry from th efanfare finish i had had at Kilimanjaro and I really was completely alone in my finish .
I group of three guys from Europe asked what i was doing and they all gave high 5´s when i told them i was done .

i t was  coincidental that i had staretd my journey in Africa two years ago with a Rob , Rob Korb and i had started this journey in Ushuaia with a Rob as well , Rob Thiesfield .

i woud be finishing both Journeys with Steve 

I was done , I mountain climb to come is a bonus , suceed or not its gonna be awesome !!!

Finished , happy , doen , relieved , Aconcagua behind me !!

Final vist to a columbia store in Mendoza , they have ben awesome
The support i hve recieved from thse around me over the ast three months has been awesome .

To everyone who helped along the way thanks you .

SAM has been my star all the way . 
Love you lots SAM 

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Sunrise over a volcano somewhere on Route 101

What ? Am i on route 101 ?

 After 4 days of 60 plus  km per day i arrived in san carlos and tried to find some camping .
i found Hosatl Rosengarten .
After chatting to the owner about my run and the pari- dakarrally he showed me his bike . Its the same superbike as valentino rossi , top speen 373 km per hour

Bring it on baby , i can take you any day !!

stunning entrance to Hostal Rosengarten 
 The owner upgradedme from the campsite to a room and a real bed , i am very greatful , very very very greatful .  If you traveling in the area you should stop here . a pool , a bar , wifi . its awesome .
 they are at 153 San Martin road in San Carlos , Its about 2km off Route 40 but worth it .
Check it out at http://www.hotelrosegarten.com.ar

thanks Again Hostalrosengarten .
tomorrow we race !!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

lots of km s and lots of things

while reading this 


Ok , so where was i , it has been a while so i forget but will endevour to to update you as best as i can .

I enjoyed a great new year and rest day in Bariloche and decided to climb Cerro ( mount ) lopez on new years day . It was spectacular and one of the most amazing things wa sthat i met Pedro while i was on the way to the top , and this is no small mountain . Pedro has been climbing the mountains around Bariloche and all over south america for more than 60 years , he was well over half way up when i cam e across him , he is 88 years old and what an inspiring man he is
me on top of Cerro Lopez ( pico turistico )

Pedro 88 years old and still climbing mountains .
I left Bariloche and headed off on the ruta forty , i entered a spectacular area running along the Limay river . Th erock formations were amazing and held my attention for ages . some one had put up a sign saying " Enchantardo "" . After i while i got the feeling i was being wathced and then i saw them . Two ancient indians , both seeem to be from tribes i had seen in western movies , th eone was a medine man with a flat hat and the other was from the tribe with mohican hair styles . ........ but maybe they werent watching me , maybe they were watching each other and they have been there forever . i hope you can find them in the pictures below . the sign was correct , i was enchanted :) 

Medicine man ...facing south

Mohican warrior ... facing north
Sam had suggested that i take the route 63 which is a back road becuase  i had told her that the trafiic was getting quite busy . I did this and it started off  pretty well . the road was not too bad and a found a cave that someone had bricked up and took a break for a while
bricked up cave in the middle of nowhwere on route 63

Paso Corboda
What Sam had failed to mentin was that you dont have to be religous  on this route as the pass is so high  i think youy actually passes heaven .

I also met myself of 30 years ago while i was going up the pass , a young chap( 20 maybe ) in a T shirt and jeans was walkin down the pass towards me and way behind him i could see a car parked at the top of the pass . He had tear stained eyes but asked me in a cheerful voice in if i was enjoying my walk , i told him i was and ask where he was walk too , He told me he was just walking away from his family because they upset him . so obviously in dispute in the car he had decide to jump out and stoem off in a huff ( just the kind of thing i would do  ) . i told hm that it would be a long road back if he kept going the way he was and that he should walk with me back up the road even though this would be hard to.  . I eventually left him with his family and pushed on . i had a farmer come down his road with his wife as thay had been watching me coming and wanted a pic as his son had told him i had been in the columbia store in Bariloche where he worked .

Later i was foshing in the river and was given a stern lecture ( not sure of all th econtent , that spanish thing again ) but thr jist of it was that i should only be using a fly ( mosche) in th eriver and my rod was for lakes only .

The top
I was pleased when i eventually got to the lake  at the bottom of the pass and decided to make a go for SAn martin los andes . I saw quite a few cyclist , mostly headin g in th eopposite direction to me .,

Just out high school and on the road , 4 friends haing there own adventre , roberto , ignatius , hermos and matthuis
 After an awesome 15 km down hill to the lake by san martin a cyclist , Victoria joined me , she had been pout for a training ride and she rode back into town with me atook me to the bike shope where Gabbi the bike mechanic fitted an new tube for me as my repair had not worked out that well.
Ricky , Victoroa and Gabbi

Alysa , lone american cyclist heading south

I met Alysa just out side San martin and she told me of a few good camping spots along th eroad . It quite brave as a single female to head out on a road trip on your own . She had been going for a month already and was the second solo female cyclist i had met .

I had a really long day and evenually got to  a river where i found a fly fisher man , gustav ,  he had his car nidely concealed from th eroad and could speak a bit of english and said i could camp near him if i wanted ,. this i did and cooked a great meall and chatted to gustav who is an engineer specilizing in wind energy and renewable enrgy sources , he design wind turbines . Later i got in my tent and i saw the man from th eparks board coming , He had an animated discussion with Gustav for 30 minutes and i think Gustav was using me as and excuse to be camping in th e " no camping " area  by sayin g that i had too becuase i was walking and he was just helping me . I decide my best stratergy was just to stay in my tent and the guy eventually left .

Gustav and I at  Rio Malaeo
 I left th eriver and the next 30 km tested me as the road was really bad , it was uphill fo the first 20 and the wind was howling in my face .  eventually i came across the village  of Pililol .

Just before getting i think i succesfully made a comp`lete fool of myself and had a good laugh for long time afterwards . this is what happened .

I was passin g the huge cliffs next to the river and  chap and his family pulled up in an old ford van and he rolled down his window and produced a camera . i have become so used to eople passin g and taking picture thathgis was nothing really new for me so i stopped , straighted my pram and put aon a good pose for him , only for him to gesture to me to get out the way as he was taking a pictuire of the rock formations behind me.    Samantha later in formed me these are well known .

That night iu camp in th epeopel belows property but never could establish there names .

Wht i could find out and really wish i coul dhave spoken spanish was that th eold man and his wife had both been very wellknown in th erodeo and he was a bull rider and she was a horse rider . they had some amazing picures of them doing wil dthings on horses and bulls . the other fellow was the grandson and he jsut wanted me to drink with him but i decided against it as it did not seem lik eit would end soon if i did .
camping in the rain

my host - bullrider , horse rider , me , intoxicated fellow

Just a side note for  thiose who dont speak or read spanish the below sign can normally be found when approachin g a rown . you probably think you know what it means but you are actually incorrect . what it really meeans is " coke in th enext 2 km and signal to msg Sam "  its my favoutire sign .

on a break

Lago Alimine

interested people

End of a beautiful day

AFter a few days on the road  with some camping in th emiddle of nowhere  i reached lalajas and took a break . I met an Americn , Chad , who had cycled form alaska . he had lots of advice which i listened too but he seemed to have some of his facts mixed and lots seem to be ivalid
Chad and I at las lajas
After las lajas , all the mountains and trees and river ended an di was back to the scrub lands , Th epeopel in laslajas and other travelers told me i was heading for the desert but i don think  th eknow what a desert is becuase wht i travelled throught was arid and harsh but was no desert .

stunning day out
The police stopped to chat and asked where i intended stayin so i told then that was hheadin g for the next town but in fact as soon as they were gone i ducked off behind some heaps of sand and set up camp .

The week just gone by had some huge days and iwas glad for a two day planned break in Chos malal as i had done  62 , 58 , 57 , 30 , 71 and 87


Jean Peiree fro Itally who ihad seen anbout a mnth ago

Me , erica , dan and beth ar chos malal on rest day
After oone days rest in chos malal i decided i would rather go to th evolcano tromen and try climb it as it is supposedly quite easy , it stand 4000 m but is just a trek to teh top . On arrival th eweather did not look so good and i hope it would clear the next  day . I really stormed that evening but not on me just off in the north it looked horrific .

worrying about th eweather at Tromen

Thats looks better  ( note no snow )

novel use for a bike sprocket

I soent the night in th esheep paddocks of  a local small farmer next to the lake
next day thing slooked beter and i set of at 6 am . th eroute to th etop was just to follow a gully up to th erigde at 3800 m and then to do the last 200 by turning right .

It went fairly well although the rocks were all very loose and th eslopes were mainly scree and sand so it was a lot of two steps fporward and one step back . I reach the sumiit at 11 am and took some pictues . i saw a cloud coming and decided to leave,( shouls have checked pictures before i left as i cut half my head of ) 
view from 3800 m

water and snow inside the cone

me on top without a head

better pic on top of tromen

Tromen summit

into th econe of the volcano
 After leaving th esummit the clouds came in quite fast and by the time i was at 3700 m it was snowing and hailing but fortunatley more on the summit that on me .
snow on tromen

 After geeting down it was only 3 pm so i decide to try and get some km under the belt before the sun set .

I met a german coule  couple , joel and tomas , they were the only vechile ui hd seen al day on the ruta 37 .

they stopped and shared some food and water with me . later isaw them stopped in the distance and as i got closer th eroad got worse and aworse until they had decide to stop as the 4x4 could not go further and they turned back .
Thomas , joel and i
Th eroad eventually got so bad that i was having to unload everything from th epram and carry it 200 m and then return for th epram and repeat this over and over . i eventually gave up an t 9:30 pm and camped on teh sroney suface . i realised at this point the my good pair of shoes was missin g as well as my fishing rod and t shirt . I went looking but never found them
Route 37

yes this is a road

and more of 37

These tow stopped and gave me encourage ment and water but we had to retake th epic with there camera a few times as her hair was not right ,.
Maria julia and Silvio

Th enext day was on dirt the whole day  and i am amazed what a dirt raod does to peopel in cars , they seem to change , at leats  20 vechgiles stopped to offer water , take photos or just chat , however when on tar no many stop at all .  bekow are some of the folks  i met

Crossing the rio grande river

Armadillo scratching for ants

I reach the town of bardas blanca and was having a nap whe i heard horses .
i t turned out to Gilles and Anna , he is from belgium and she is from new zealand , the are travel south america on horse back . we had a great time in th ecamp site , gilees cooked us steak rolls and we had 2 lites of wine to wash it down with . they both have spennt years all over africa working for doctors without borders , fascinating stories .

Anna and Gilles in camp

They caught up with me agai yesterday in Malague and we all went for dinner where more wine , beer and meat were consumed ,

I managed to badly overspend but it was worth it .  i thouroughly enjoyed meeting them and hope our paths cross again soon but amazing for once my pace is quicker than theres :)

you can read more about there trip at www.thegreathorsetrip.com

That it for now !