For three hours the only sound was the glacier beneath our feet and the occasional deep exhale. We had been moving since 10:00 PM the day before. It’s 1:00 AM somewhere on the col of Patience. Our headlamps only light 100 feet in either direction, the moonless sky exposes an array of stars beyond the comprehension of even the most capable imagination. Of the light from the billions of stars, I, a small human, shine a light deep into the vast darkness of our universe.
On one of trillions of planets, I am on earth standing at the foot of one mountain. That mountain is Cerro Tore. For three hours I have walked towards its looming headwall, unable to see its unfathomable mass. My partner and I gaze into to the encompassing darkness, humbled by how small we are. Although we stand within an amphitheater spreading millions of light-years, we have meaning and we have purpose. We are not simply on a stage; we are in our place. We are allowed to see the validity of the universe; the mountain is letting us in.
We have spent the last two weeks waiting out bad weather in El Chalten. We came to Patagonia with one objective: Cerro Torre. The whole trip seemed to be a loss: monster winds, rime ice, and snow for two weeks. Four days before we were scheduled to take the bus back to Santiago, the only weather window of the season opened. It was a three-day window; perfect.
There was not margin of error, we left that afternoon and we haven’t stopped since. We can’t. Our goal is to charge up a route attempted by a group of Italians years ago – directly up the center of Torre’s inconceivably massive face. The next five hours will be spent trying to beat the sun up the lower pitches to the headwall.
We take one last look at the sky and then at each other. We know each other too well. We know what needs to be done. We know each other’s every move. Trust is not a strong enough word for the bond between two climbing partners. We pick up our tools knowing that we are about to embark on the adventure that has consumed our dreams countless nights. Under a cosmic sky we pursue cosmic dreams, together.