Our first experience in the Andino verdad has been an incredible trip up Mount Tronador. As with any of our repeat photography trips we started with a stack of photos printed in black and white and ended up with a deeper understanding of a place.
Cierro Tronador is a large volcano hidden behind the mountains near Bariloche, Argentina. On our first day on the mountain we climbed above Refugio Otto Meiling toward a beautiful ridge called Lamotte. A short hike obtains this ridge giving the spectator wonderful views of two of Tronador’s three summits. From this vantage it is easy to appreciate the former scale of these incredible glaciers that still pour off this volcanoes flanks. Here, we repeated two historic photos. After a short jaunt to a nearby summit to preview our next two adventures, we descended back to the refugio for a great New Years celebration with friends.
On our second day, we climbed Cierro Constitucion. Despite the bushwhacking through lenga bush and tabanos, or horseflies, we were able to summit and take one of our best historic repeat photos to date. Alberto M. de Agostini, in some ways the Ansel Adams of the Andes, took this photo of Tronador´s Frias Glacier from the summit of Constitucion in 1949. These photos show the most startling changes we’ve witnessed so far. Our repeat photo reveals an incredible amount of retreat and thinning. Where there were once huge icefalls, there are now rivers, lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls.
Our most difficult decision was to forgo taking our oldest photos. We decided to not climb to Cierro Interncional where these photos were taken from because the temperatures were unusually warm at night and the glacier surface was not freezing. This meant that the loose volcanic rocks were free to crumble off of the summits to the glacier paths below. Instead we chose to climb Pico Argentino, since it had far less rock fall danger. We were living our dreams, celebrating the sunrise as we welcomed the spirit of adventure and gave our thoughts to Travis Lizotte, whose life was taken very near our route.
Phase two is now complete. Next, we are setting out for Chile, where a whole new adventure awaits: to better understand and articulate the deep and intricate relationships between glaciers, people, and dams.
Cierro Tronador is the heart of our Andes adventure. Our first steps into the Patagonian wilderness will be toward the mountain that took the life of our friend and fellow Outward Bound instructor Travis Lizotte. We dedicate this next portion to celebrate his life and spirit. In his life he opened his heart to so many people, showing and creating the kindness possible in humanity. He left a legacy that guides how we may trod our own path giving, and in turn, receiving.
We celebrate Travis and heed the insight of our Canadian friend and experienced guide, Lorenzo. Lorenzo told us how many of his clients came to the mountains expecting suffering, so they suffered. On Aconcagua and in the Himalayas, Lorenzo observed that people who approached a mountain with humility and compassion experienced less of a battle and more of a salutation. Travis approached life with similar compassion and we believe it is no coincidence that he lived a life rich in happiness and community.
We hope to approach Tronador with the same open heart and compassion that Travis lived by. We celebrate Travis’ life as we have and will celebrate the life of Matthew Baxter III. These two inspirational men guide our own interpersonal connections with people we are close to and they inspire us to generate strong bonds among the people outside our communities.
We finally finished the film from our adventure through the high Sierra this past summer just in time for the El Portal Travel Series show. Check it out.
This represents the culmination of an interesting process of trying to transform my skills as a still photographer into the world of motion. I learned a few new software programs, a whole new way of telling a story, and look forward to learning more. I love hearing feedback as to what works and what doesn’t for you so I can improve my storytelling. Stay tuned for the other outcomes of our trip this past summer, such as a photo database and maps.
We are currently laying the groundwork and plans for our South America portion of the trip, starting in Santiago, Chile in December. We’ve received really positive support from many researchers, guides, and water advocates working in Patagonia and are tremendously excited for this trip.
We’re in Bishop today picking up our resupply boxes from the post office, doing laundry, eating lots, and using internet at the Library. Coming down from the mountains after a long time always feels like cultre shock, and this time is no different. We have become accustomed to the wild and it’s suprising to be able to smell laundry detergent on hikers at the trailhead from 40 ft away.
So far this portion of our journey has beeen a great success. Yesterday we found and repeated six historic USGS photographs, crossed a 12,000 foot pass, and traveled 8 miles off trail. All after a relaxing morning and we still had plenty of time to stretch, write, draw, and relax watching sunset on Mt. Humphreys when we got into camp.
The next section between Bishop and Mammoth is a section of the Sierra none of us have traveled before and we are excited to get into the rythm of moving every day again. Soon you will also get to see the results of our travels as we process and put together the photos and viedo.
hike your hike