Notices by expedition subcommittee

    Hiking plans- info Sept 16

    Hi all,

    This mail goes to those only who paid her air fare to Balmaceda and are therefore confirmed. We have a 9th person, Lee-Anne Morris, but I don’t have her email address.

    Firstly, apologies for the long period of silence. I was away overseas and when I came back I had to first attend to some very pressing issues at work.

    I am going to detail a vague plan below, plus a number of other options for those who want to do something else or stay longer. This ‘plan’ is not at all fixed, except for the first week or so. The rest are suggestions. We can discuss this and modify it as we go along. I don’t think we can book any accommodation beyond 12.1, as weather and transport logistics will probably demand some flexibility. I am confident that we will be able to book buses and other accommodation at short notice in Chile.

    I (and most of us) will leave JHB on 31.12.2016 and arrive in Balmaceda on 1.1.2017 16h25. We will get a shuttle bus to Coyhaique.

    I (and some others) will leave Balmaceda on 31.1.2017 in the afternoon. That gives me 29 days in the country (2.1. to 30.1.). I like to not plan anything for the day of the return flight.

    A rough and very flexible itinerary looks like this:

    2.1. – 3.1. Shopping, buy bus tickets, planning in Coyhaique

    4.1. Travel to Las HorquetasGrandes (transport 2 hours, almost daily) and start walking the Cerro Castillo trek.

    5.1. –9.1. Cerro Castillo trek. This can be done in 4 days, but I want to stay two nights in the same place twice or three times and do a day hike into side valleys to see glaciers and waterfalls. Only standard hiking equipment in necessary, no crampons and the like.

    9.1. Sleep over in Villa Cerro Castillo.

    10.1. Return to Coyhaique

    11.1. Coyhaique, shopping for more food and buy bus tickets.

    12.1. Travel to Puerto Rio Tranquilo (Lago General Carrera)

    13.1.-15.1. Hike along shores of lake, boat ride or paddle to marble caves, arrange excursion to northern ice cap

    16.1. Travel to end of road towards Laguna San Rafael, make camp

    17.1.-18.1. Excursion onto northern ice cap – crampons necessary! Those who don’t possess crampons: borrow, steal or hire. I will bring a rope and little gear, but someone else will have to carry it. No harnesses necessary.

    19.1. Return to Puerto Rio Tranquilo, rest

    20.1. Travel to Valle Chacabuco or Cochrane and, if possible, to entrance of Parque Nacional Patagonia

    21.1.-24.1. Hike in Parque Nacional Patagonia. This includes Jeinemeni.

    25.1. Return to Coyhaique

    26.1.-30.1. 5 days reserve for bad weather, unavailability of buses, mishaps, visit to Reserva Nacional Coyhaique or Reserva Nacional Rio Simpson or any of the other options listed below.

    I still hope to get up some minor peak somewhere. It will not require climbing equipment and anyone is welcome to join.

    The following options are not included above, but some of you might want to rather do some of these than what I have in mind.

    • Parque Pumalin, north of Coyhaique and worth a couple of days, possible climb of volcano
    • Parque Nacional Queulat, a little north of Coyhaique and worth a 2-3 of days
    • Sport climbing at Puerto Ingeniero Ibanez
    • Hot springs at Puyuhuapi, a little north of Coyhaique and close to Parque Nacional Queulat
    • Glaciar Perito Moreno at Parque Nacional Los Glaciares – south, in Argentine
    • Trek in Fitz Roy area, some way south
    • Trek in San Lorenzo area, some way south
    • Trek Peine circuit, some 4-6 days
    • Climb one or more peaks requiring skills and equipment – there are countless options

    Who is going to volunteer to book a cabana (cabin) or two or other accommodation in Coyhaique for 3 nights, from 1.1.2017 to 4.1.2017 and two nights from 12.1.?I believe we need two days to do shopping and arrange transport, porters, horses etc. and to get some more detailed information for future trips at the local tourist office. Some info regarding accommodation is attached, but there might be better options still. If it is you, please get names of those wanting to be part of it – I am in it. I think we look for a relatively cheap and fairly close to town place. We need to get to the centre of town for shopping and bus connections. When booking, please specify that we want to store some equipment there for up to ten days while on the trek and a small bag until our return flight.

    Perhaps we should also book one night accommodation in Villa Cerro Castillo for the night 9.1./10.1., although we can probably organize this when there. I leave this to the capable booking volunteer.

    I need to book a horse or porter (s) for the Cerro Castillo Trek to help with the carrying of 6 days food and fuel. I will be able to carry my personal belongings plus ½ tent, but will have to limit myself to this. I have contradicting information regarding horses in the park. Someone said “it is possible”, others said “it is not allowed”. At worst, a porter will cost USD 100 per day and carry 25kg. I will probably need ¼ to 1/3 of a porter. Who wants to share a porter and for how many kg? A horse would be cheaper. Once I have your reply on this, I will organize what is necessary and best.

    I strongly recommend adequate medical insurance. Check with your present insurance company whether they include search and rescue and repatriation. With our present plans it is highly unlikely that anyone will have a serious accident, but sh..happens and so do rock falls. If you are not happy with your present cover, joining the Austrian Alpine Club is a very good option. If you join Britannia section, all correspondence is in English. For +- £50 you get 12 month’s worldwide insurance and repatriation to SA, plus discounts on all Alpine huts should you visit the Alps. I am a member for many, many years for that reason. You can join online and will get your membership card within 3 weeks, provided the SA post office doesn’t strike. Go to and check it out.

    We need to book accommodation in Coyhaique ASAP, so please reply and let us know whether you a) want to take on this task and b) whether you want to be part of the communal booking. You can obviously do your own thing as well.

    I would also appreciate a reply regarding horse/porter.

    I will by separate mail forward some reading material on the proposed objectives. This will also be posted on our website for future reference.



    More info on Cerro Castillo Area: (Click the link to access the file)








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    Patagonia info May 16 – travel

    Good day all,

    It is time to buy your ticket!

    Everybody will fly out on 31.12. 22h10 from JHB to Sao Paulo. There the groups will split. Return flights are planned for leaving on 31.1. and arriving in JHB on 1.2. A summary of flight and other travel costs are on our website under “travel details / travel details”.

    Group 1/2 (base camps 1 and 2) will continue via Buenos Aires to El Calafate, spend a day there shopping for food and fuel and then travel a complicated and scenic route to base camp involving a bus, boat, horse trek, 4x4 section and a final boat ride. You find the details under “travel details / El Califate to Base Camp”. You also find a map of this route there.


    Group 3 (base camp 3) will continue via Santiago to Balmacedas (Coyhaique), spend a day there shopping for food and fuel and then travel on to their destination.


    All flights have a 2 x 23kg baggage allowance, plus hand luggage. That means you can bring a few special food items (freeze dried, biltong, game etc) from SA. The most important details of the quotes for these flights are on our website including the details of the travel agent I used last. (Previous ones were most disappointing.) You can obviously do your own booking, but you will not get 2x23kg on the internal flights, not even from Argentine to Chile. If you are prepared to travel via Doha or Dubai and spend an extra 25h each way in airports, you might save a few Rand.


    If you need to return earlier than the main group(s), contact Nicky Boland on Tel: 031 764 0830 | 031 765 5845 and arrange with her.


    There is a possibility of approaching base camps 1 and 2 from Santiago/Balmacedas. However the travel on the Carretera Austral to Villa O’Higgins poses some problems for a group. There is an (unreliable) public transport at relatively low cost, which will most probably not be able to cope with a group and 3-4 weeks supplies, but it might be an option for a single traveller. It is also possible to hire 4x4’s in Coyhaique at relatively high cost. You can check details of these options on our webpage under “travel details / car hire balmacedas to VoH” and “travel details / Getting To Villa O’Higgins via Chile”. These options might pay for a small independent group on a different time schedule. I have not been able to verify a Hertz car drop off at Villa O’Higgins despite this being mentioned somewhere.


    There are scheduled boat trips on the lake (BC 1 & 2) between Villa O’Higgins and Candelario Mancilla and the O’Higgins glacier. Details are on our webpage. I have used in my ‘travel details’ a quote for a chartered boat trip to the base camp directly. This might have to be re-negotiated for a smaller than originally anticipated number. I also don’t have a quote for a boat trip from VoH to base camp. Greg Mosely seems to know that there are boats serving an estancia close to base camp. This boat might be a cheaper option. (I grey-ed these figures in my spreadsheet)


    Please mark in our google spreadsheet (column M) “paid” when you paid your flight deposit or fare.


    I now need three volunteers.

    1. For group 1/2: someone to establish who is committed by having paid his/her air fare (or deposit), contact Robinson Crusoe and book the overland trip and to possibly find a cheaper version of getting from Candelaria Mancilla to base camp. I am more than willing to explain and help, but don’t want to be involved with the details anymore. The same person or someone else needs to find accommodation in El Calafate.
    2. For group 3: someone to find transport to Cerro Castillo and possibly donkies or horses for an extended hike and arrange details. I have started to make enquiries and will pass on all information that I have so far.
    3. For group 3: an overall leader. He, or a small group under his/her leadership, will have to develop an itinerary for the hiking party. Climbers in group 3 will have to identify their own objectives and appoint their own leader. He also needs to appoint someone to find accommodation in Coyhaique.
    4. Robert Powell has volunteered to take the climbers in area 1/2 under his wings.



    I am only posting pdf files on the webpage. Anyone requiring the original quotes or documents can ask me for it.

    If you don’t find the above mentioned documents on the web yet, give it a day or two at the most.


    Regards and happy planning,






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    Examples of Mountaineering and Glacier Travel

    For Examples of Mountaineering and Glacier Travel please follow the link below:

    Examples of Mountaineering and Glacier Travel

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    A different variation has been discussed for a while. As you will have seen on the maps a good percentage of the area are lakes. You will find a good 1:50000 map at{"xmin":-8088076.785904269,"ymin":-6187654.1687768195,"xmax":-8073419.985730606,"ymax":-6181567.87039962,"spatialReference":{"wkid":102100}}&appid=03aee81c9d8147aba9ae9cc512467670
    June Fabian has proposed to take a small group on one-man inflatables to paddle the water ways to shores not accessible to the main groups and explore different valleys on foot. There are various models of suitable inflatables on the market, varying from €800 to €1500, a good option being the MRS at €1000 weighing about 3kg. They come with spray deck and an ingenious pump and could be used on rivers up to grade 3. They are easy to portage and can accommodate a backpack strapped to the top. Have a look at If there is interest we will investigate how to bring these boats to Patagonia or SA the most economical way. We are presently enquiring about possibilities and costs of hiring those boats and shipping costs. It might be possible that different people rent a boat for a set period of days and so only pay their portion of the rental and part of the shipping costs. We will keep you updated.
    You can read about a similar trip and get some more information at:
    If the costs stretch your budget too much, there is always the possibility of convincing a friend or uncle to buy one for his kids and offer to test-run it for him in Patagonia. If you are interested contact June at or Ulrike at for more info. There is one of these boats in JHB and can be examined and tried out on a river.
    We looked at different models:
    Luxus €1500, 3,2kg, incl spray deck
    MRS €1000, 3kg, incl spray deck, suitable for strong winds
    Nortik €800, 3kg, incl spray deck
    Chinese model – we are still looking
    You will also require:
    A paddle €200, ~1kg, comes in 3 sections
    A life jacket
    Some dry bag for your overnight gear
    Possibly some foam insulation, good anorak, dry pants

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    Patagonia info March 16

    The Expedition SubComm is delighted at the response to the proposed MCSA 125th Anniversary Expedition. The response has been overwhelming with over 100 people expressing interest in going to Patagonia for the 2016/2017 season. It has however, presented the SubComm members with an interesting dilemma! It will be appreciated that sending an expedition with over 100 members to an area such as Lago O'Higgins which is remote, unexplored, ultra-alpine in character, environmentally quite sensitive and blessed with some of the worst weather on the planet would be a considerable challenge! The SubComm has attempted to address this problem in various ways:
    1. By splitting the party into three separate parties. The first two will go to different, but reasonably close base camp sites and operating in different (but partially overlapping) areas (area 1 and area 2) on either side of one of the arms of Lago O’Higgins. Both these options are considered to be "hard core" expeditionary areas - not necessarily in the technical climbing sense but in terms of difficult country, the need for high levels of self-sufficiency, the longer time needed to be spent in the area, etc.The third party will go to the Cerro Castillo National Reserve just south of CoyHaique (area 3), a really attractive area with a wide variety of options in terms of technical peaks and a vast number of options for walking and traversing of all scales of difficulty. This will ease the environmental pressure on these sensitive areas.
    Presentations of both the Lago O’Higgins area and the Cerro Castillo options are attached to this e-mail and are posted on our website.
    2. By limiting the first two parties to 15 people (maximum) each and the third to 20 (flexible).
    3. By allowing the applicants a chance to re-evaluate themselves in the light of the character of the areas involved and choose one of the three options. The necessary attributes include the ability of the expedition members to operate independently and to be competent, self-sufficient mountaineers who have the ability to travel and explore in a relatively unknown area. As is well known, the severity of the Patagonian weather provides an extra dimension to all activities. Especially those selecting area 1 or 2 should please refer to the attached ”Examples of Mountaineering and Glacier Travel 1”compiled by Rob Powell and fill in under ’refined objectives’ in the spreadsheet at (column I) what you believe best applies to your abilities and expectations. Please use the abbreviations as explained in the attached file.
    Both parties 1 and 2 will include both "technical" climbers looking to make first or early ascents of some of the extremely challenging peaks on both sides of the Brazo Oeste of Lago O'Higgins and also experienced, fit and competent mountaineers/hikers who wish to explore the remote valleys and glaciers and possibly to ascend less technical peaks. The two areas both contain high peaks that have seen very few (or no) ascents plus glacial valleys that lead to serious, but hopefully less technical, high snow and ice peaks on the South Patagonian Ice Cap. Some of these are unclimbed.
    The third area is better suited for those with less ambitious goals. However there are some very interesting and challenging mountains in this region as well. It will be possible for those interested in a more serious trip to extend the hike to the Chilean side of San Lorenzo.
    Please indicated as soon as possible in the spreadsheet at (column J) which area you think may suit you best.
    There might be a small group going to pack-raft in the area visiting above mentioned base camps 1 and 2 and other shores that are not accessible to the main groups. They will thereby try to explore different valleys in the area. More detailed information is attached here and added to our website. If you are interested in joining this group contact Ulrike at or June Fabian at
    We are busy enquiring about flight and bus connections, as well as group discounts and sports allowances. You will get the details as soon as they are available.
    All relevant information is and will be posted on our website. The website has been updated with information regarding the three venue options described above including various possible climbing objectives. Check the website from time to time in case you missed an email.
    Best wishes,
    The Expedition SubComm

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    Patagonia Information Jan 16

    Hi all,

    I wish you all a happy, successful and exciting 2016.

    We need to start thinking about the Patagonia expedition in detail. Some of you have not yet filled in their details (MCSA section, objective, difficulty level and preferred time) in our spreadsheet. Please go to and fill in these data if you haven’t done it yet. Once I start filtering to certain criteria and you have blanks against you name, you will fall off the list. The preferred time spans are A=15.12.16 to 10.1.17, B=28.12.16 to 22.1.16, C=3.1.17 to 1.2.17. These dates are approximately only.


    Judging by some of the questions I received in the past few months I doubt everybody understands the nature of this expedition. This is not a guided trip. The expedition will be entirely self-supported; no guides or commercial operators will be employed. This also means you have to carry all your goods yourself, pitch your own tent, cook your own meal and also take an active part in preparations.

    Patagonia is exposed to extreme weather with the gale force winds accelerating to over 150 kilometers per hour. It is one of the most remote and inhospitable places on the planet – but also one of the most beautiful! The O’Higgins area in Patagonia offers a number of challenging peaks, almost unlimited trekking options and relatively easy access to the Patagonian Ice Cap and its snow peaks. As there is very little information on this area members will have to use their mountain skills to identify suitable objectives and to navigate in and explore unknown terrain. There are no route guides and no established trekking routes.


    As experience and fitness are very subjective terms, I cannot specify a certain experience or fitness level. You need to be able to take care of yourself in remote mountain areas under harsh conditions. You also need to be able to carry an overnight pack plus a few days food while walking cross country. If you can do a couple of days across the Drakensberg or the Hexriver Mountains comfortably, you should be OK.


    I don’t intend to interfere much with the climber’s plans. Alard and Julia will try to collect some information on climbs done and not done. If you want their input, contact them on and Similarly, if you like to share information, please pass it on to them.


    If you are able and willing to lead a smallish trekking group, please contact me directly on  Please specify the maximum number of people you would accommodate, the approximate number of continuous days you will be away from base camp and whether or not you would want to venture onto the ice cap.

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