15 November 2015

Chalten - Gordito Styles

If you talk to anyone who has been to El Chalten in Argentina, they will all say the same thing.. Fuck yea! You have to go!

El Chalten (the volcano) is the town at the foot of Mt Fitzroy which is one of the coolest mountains I've ever laid eyes on. Chalten is also dubbed the trekking capital of Argentina. The hiking trails lead you straight from town into the hills where you can either choose to camp or just do all the major trips as a day walk from town. 

This time around it was Los Tres Gordos (the three Fatties) and we had a different agenda...

One of the many rad photo ops on the drive in to town. 

This time rather than being stuck on a bus until we reached town we could stop and take a few photos etc. Mt Fitzroy comes in to view pretty early on with a great view of glaciers and mountains and lakes. Pretty much a paradise! 

Heading around the backside of Fitzroy. More glaciers, mountains, lakes, rivers, etc..

Rather than staying in town or even hiking in to camp somewhere, we decided to drive to a sweet campsite that was around the north side of the mountain called Estancia Ricanor. The camping was pretty sweet with great BBQ's and hot showers and views of the mountains..

 First order of business - fire!

 Only so we could eat again!

The following day we stuck with the plan which was to go for a hike. We didn't get much time to do a lot of hiking on the way down because A) there was a tonne of driving to get done and B) we were enjoying the Asado and vino much too much. Not a bad thing at all.

The hike for the day left straight from where we were camped and was up to a place called Lago Diablo (the devil lake) and was definitely some much needed exercise to try and make use of the previous nights meat and wine. The hike was super cool and followed a river up to a lake that was fed at the far end by a very cool glacier or three. On the way up we were also getting some really good views across the valley of Fitzroy.

 A well deserved water stop.

The valley at the top where it changed from a river valley to a glaciated valley.

 The view of the lake etc

 On the way back down the views were just as good.

Cool trees

 And then surprise surprise, another BBQ.

The other day and a half was spent just enjoying being in a really nice place by drinking scenic beers, scenic wines and having scenic BBQ's. Then it was on the road again to cross back into Chile.

The quaint town of El Chalten.

On the way out of town we came across a few Condors and Eagles soaring right next to the road.

And here is a little Asado action..

11 November 2015

The coolest fail yet - The road past Mount Zeballos

We left Bariloche with a belly full of meat and a load of clean laundry after staying with Loli and Mariano. It was time to continue south and to find the coolest roads that we could to take the heavily loaded Hilux on. From Bariloche we took the 40 before jumping on route 71 through Los Alerces National Park which was full of big and beautiful lakes and mountains, camping at Lago Rosario and then linking back up with the 40. We then drove and drove and drove to another pretty small town by the name of Los Antiguos before getting on a road that took us right along the boarder of Chile and Argentina that would take us past Mount Zeballos... If we could pass.

Driving through the park of Los Alerces

Pablo is the happiest chappy with a beer and some wood for the BBQ at Lago Rosario

From Lago Rosario it was more scenic gravel to Los Antiguos where we stayed the night in some quiet Cabanos.

From Los Antiguos we embarked on our little adventure on this road that we weren't really sure if it was navigable because it wasn't really shown as a road on some maps and it was still pretty early in the season. We chose not to ask any one if it was good or not, we decided to just go and see for ourselves...

Firs Armadillo of the trip/day. We ended up seeing 3 that day and no more on the trip.

The state of the moonscape we encountered. Turns out we were probably the first vehicle up there since last summer.

 This is the point that we reached where we found lots of snow drifts across the road and wash outs underneath those snow drifts. We had made it past many but it all became to much as we were super isolated and didn't want to A) get the truck stuck or B) break the truck.

Driving back the way we came with our tails between our legs. Pretty nice view though.

Intransitable - I guess they were right and that orange netting was meant to be across the bridge. Didn't pay any attention to that on the way in.

 Our first really good chunk of "La Pampa". The Longest, Straightest roads of my life!

After driving the 40 for a while we had a break and sleep at G'dor Gregores. From there we made our way to Chalten. We had a bunch of hikes planned for this area. El Chalten claims to be the hiking capital of Argentina and because I was the only one out of the three of us who had been there before I had some pretty good plans...

The road to our Camp at Estancia Ricanor out the back of Chalten. 

29 October 2015

San Carlos de Bariloche

 We drove through the night from Chos Malal,  a terribly windy and dusty town that was in the middle of nowhere, to reach San Carlos de Bareloche. We arrived to a warm welcome at our friends house, watched the All Blacks win the semi final in the World Cup before enjoying some local beer and asado!

Asado - Argentinian BBQ
The next day we went for a stroll up the side of Mt Lopez to have a look at the fjords of Lake Nohuel Huapi. Really chill and the view we were paid off with at the end was incredible. We even got a really close view of a condor soaring just below us.

Start of the trail

Our first view point

A view from the top looking out over Nahuel Huapi Lake.

The next day we went for another walk to the top of a hill called Cerra Campario which according to National Geographic is in the top 10 views in the world coming in at number 7. Needless to say, it was a damn good one!

The view from the top of Cerra Campario.

That night we BBQ'd again but this time Mariano cooked. This was again delicious. By this point I'm sure I have eaten a months quota of meat but that wont stop me!


On our last day Mike and I took out the kayaks and went for a little paddle on the lake around sunset. It was really cool to get a different perspective of the hills and mountains in the area. I got to try out my new paddle that a buddy Shane made for me for Antarctica to. It was a beauty!

 Mt Lopez in the background

Flying Kiwi off a rock we found at the end of the peninsular.

And what's the point of a dry suit if your not going to jump off some shit/ I was way to hot and needed to cool down ASAP!

To wrap up San Carlos de Bareloche in a nutshell, there was Meat, Beer, and some cool little adventures whilst getting to hang out with some ship mates! Bloody good! 

Cheers to Mariano and Loli for their incredible hospitality!  

26 October 2015

From Mendoza along the Old Route 40

It was a slow start to the day when we were to leave Mendoza. After some wine it was a little hard to motivate to get an early start even though we had a lot of driving to do to get to Termas El Sosneado (The Sosneado Thermals). We decided that we wanted to take the more scenic and totally gravel route that was the old route 40. It was a very good call as we drove through some amazing landscapes with great scenery and saw only 2 cars, 2 motorbikes, and a Gaucho on his horse.  

Team Tall Tree about to get lost in a very rural part of Argentina

Route old 40 was incredible. Following the mountains south all we would see were snow capped peaks to our right and desert to our left.

Cruising in Pablo's Hilux

Saw a herd of goats and thought it would be funny to catch one.. so we chased them and I caught one.

Once we reached a little town called El Sosneado we started to head west into the mountains and up towards a hot spring that was about 100km off of the beaten track up a valley. The further in we got the more volcanic the landscape became. Once we were 10 minutes down this road we saw nobody apart from the Gauchos in their little huts.

Una Heras - a holding pen for livestock.

 This was the abandoned hotel that we found near the end of the road. It was put here for the hot pools. It was then abandoned in the 1950's when the hot-pools became luke-warm-pools. 

Once we reached the hotel I was the only one foolish enough to get into the pools. After running around barefoot my numb feet fooled me into thinking that the pool was warmer than it really was and so I stripped off and jumped in only to realize how cold they really were. Then there was also the dilemma of the air temp being freezing so I got deeper and deeper into the pool determined to find the hot spot that didn't exist! 

We set up camp and then began our first Argentinian BBQ with entrana (some meat that we got in a tiny little town) and made some awesome sandwiches. We also managed to finish our supply of vino.. 

  The luke-warm-pool.

After we left the valley and made it back to El Sosneado we learnt that this valley was the one that the Uruguay rugby team's plane went down in the 1970's. The survivors then made the journey over the Andes and into Chile.. Crazy story!

From here we made the mammoth drive south to Bareloche through the El Payen area which is the most expansive volcanic area that I have ever come across.

A Gaucho herding his goats on route 40.

Rio Grande boiling through a lava gorge, El Payen. 

Dirt roads, Gauchos and volcanic landscape

We then continued to drive through the night to reach Bareloche for the semi final game between the All Blacks and South Africa and to BBQ up a storm at Mariano and Loli's house who we also work with on the ship.

Santiago to Mendoza

The first leg of the trip was from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. To get there we had to cross the Andes. This impressive road over Los Liberadores Pass took us to above 3000m. We delayed the beginning of the trip due to it snowing up there and we had a couple of last minute preparations to make before embarking on this mammoth road trip. We eventually drove over the Andes mountain range which was epic. From the road you look out the window at 5000m peaks and also the highest peak in continental America, Aconcagua (6,960m). Scenic as!

 There was still a fair amount of snow around up the top

At the very top of the pass is the boarder which we had a little hold up because of a minor discrepancy with some paper work but it all worked out in the end. We stuck with the main road for a little longer before we got on our first gravel road. It was a beautiful drive and we only saw a couple of cars over the 106km road.

Coming down we got off the main road of Route 7 and took our first back road on Route 52

Once in Mendoza it was time to eat some meat and sample some of the local Malbec.. Soo good! Carne y vino - Perfecto!

Once we arrived in Mendoza our hunger level was high so we went on a mission to change some currency and find some food. Mendoza is most famous as a wine area. We sampled many bottles and took some extra for the road south.

Mapman showing us potential routes.

After a couple of wines and a couple of beers we finalized our plans for the next day which was to take old Route 40 and then head up into the mountains to camp at a hot spring. We don't really know what to expect or what we were going to find which is all part of the adventure!

21 October 2015

The Journey to Antarctica - Mike, Pablo and Jamie driving Patagonia

This year I was presented the opportunity to drive from Santiago to Punta Arenas with two guys (Mike Hann from Canada and Pablo Zentano from Chile) I work with down in Antarctica. We have a couple of weeks and we will be driving from Santiago across to Mendoza before heading south through Argentinian Patagonia.We are doing this on our way to Punta Arenas to meet with the rest of our workmates before getting on the ship to Antarctica. The total distance we will cover over the next few months is just over 5,700km and we will be crossing the Antarctic Circle in January on the Ocean Nova.

We have no real plan on our way down, just a whole lot of ideas. The two trips that I have done in the past has only been in the far south from Ushuaia to El Chalten and to Torres del Paine so I am excited to see much more of this part of the world.

Watch this space, it's going to be quite the adventure!

Doing what I do on the Antarctic Peninsular taking people sea kayaking in one of the most amazing places on the planet.

A flying visit home

After being in North America for four and a half months it was time to do some work and earn some money. Lucky for me there are jobs out there that don't really feel like work. As well as playing at  work, I wanted to hang out and play as much as possible outside of work. The balancing act is always a hard one but if I wasn't driving up or down the country I managed to work.

Top of Makara Peak in Wellington.

Once I put my bike together, I met up with an old school buddy, Mike. He showed me some really fun trails in Wellington. We also randomly met a couple of dudes from Wellington not long after we started our ride and they showed us some that even Mike didn't know about. 

Top of Exit Trail in the Redwoods, Rotorua.

After exploring trails in California, Utah, Colorado, and British Columbia it was so good to be home in Rotorua riding with good friends on our own world class trails! The forest in Rotorua is actively logged so every few years when they log a new block they rebuild trails so there is always something new.

The view from platform 4 to 5 which is up a 1000yr old Rimu tree.

Fortunately for me I keep getting welcomed back to Rotorua Canopy Tours to guide for them for just a few weeks at a time when I am available. It was awesome to get out there again because there is always something new happening. I'm not talking about the course that we take people ziplining on, I'm talking about all of the great conservation work they do out in the Dainsy Road Scenic Reserve where they operate. Each time I go back more pests have been removed, there are more birds and new plans being executed to remove more pests. It's a cool company.

Spring was pretty good to. Just enjoying some sun on the deck after work.

One of the coolest things about being home is how much you can fit into a day. There is so much close to Okere Falls and so many motivated people who are keen to get out there and make the most of a day. This particular day was a standout. It started with a safety kayak (work) lap on the Kaituna for Rotorua Rafting followed by a raft lap with some friends.

Testing if I could hit the line still with the lightest load ever.

The Kaituna river is a magical place that attracts people from all over the country and the world with its classic, warm, super fun whitewater, and it's a beautiful place. I've been coming back summer after summer since 2009 and still can't wait to get back there every year. Now it's not just the river but the people, the lake, the beach, and the mountain biking.

Next on the agenda for the day was to go rip around Lake Rotoiti with Cam chasing a couple of mates who were sailing their skiff. I even got to go for a ride on the skiff for a just enough time to take some photos and pull on some ropes.

Sam and Tim hanging out making it look pretty easy. I think it's far too stressful.

After going on a bit more of an explore around the lake checking out Hot Water Beach and some cool caves that were used for food storage by the Maori we headed to Rainbow Mountain for some mountain biking.
The views from the top are incredible from the top of this volcano. 

 All smiles at the bottom of the "Te Ranga" trail.

The view from the top of Tokorangi Pa. Sanga rolling into "Corodor" 

After the flying three and a half weeks at home the next adventure through Patagonia down to Antarctica is just around the corner!