Patagonia and the Tau 35

[nivo_slider source=”post” link=”image” size=”500×300″ limit=”5″ effect=”fade” speed=”600″ delay=”3000″] With the Tau 35 the last 2 months I managed a somewhat non-traditional testing of its integrity. It far exceeded my expectations… Muy, muy bueno…

In some ways Argentina/Chile and greater Patagonia feels like you are traveling in Europe (lackluster food, US prices or higher on just about everything) and in others it feels like you are truly at the edge of the world. My traveling companero Maureen and I made a fairly complete transiting of the world’s 8th largest country and specifically Patagonia which is a massive, massive and varying landscape… Sure some roped climbing pitches were sent, a few hundred muddy, bouldery, snowy trail miles endured, a couple peaks ticked, 5 hours of the most extreme off-trail lenga tree thrashing suffered but this is only a small portion of the story… (Check out my personal blog at for verbal ramblings and Tandem Stills and Motion for more vicariously visual experiences.

But the modes of transit when not ambulatory are not quite as cushy as Europa. In two months we spent a total of more than 150 long hours crammed into omnibuses (long distance buses), collectivos (local taxis), the overnight train Patagonia Express Train, catamarans and plenty of local buses. I also managed a somewhat blurry day on a bike with the Tau touring the wine country in the Maipu (Malbec) region of Mendoza whilst negotiating the psychotic blasts of traffic and finally being escorted by a friendly local motorcycle cop to the subsequent bodegas (wineries).

The white Cuben fabric from Cubic Tech slowly turned a slightly less attractive gray (the only change I noticed) but I appreciated this whilst waiting interminably in sketchy bus stations, like Mendoza, where I had one plucky youth unzip my decklid that was just a hair out of my vision -but at least he opted for deftly sliding a zipper rather than running off with the smog colored bag…

Shoving, sliding, smashing, sitting or resting feet on it while on the half dozen overnight cramped buses, burying it beneath a stack of 100 other packs on boats to get to or from treks, crunching it into tiny Volkswagen and Citroen colectivo trunks… Didn’t slow it down in the slightest and it still is as stalwart and ready to go as on day one.

Next month a road trip relocation beckons from Cali to Colorado and it is quite possible a few peaks in the Range of Light and beyond may get in the way of the 1200 mile drive – which I am quite looking forward to…

P.S. We had three other packs from major US companies with us and two of them suffered busted buckles and zippers that literally exploded stitching and unravelled themselves in the harsh conditions, rendering decklids and side pockets completely useless (the third was rarely used)… Not to mention a completely shredded rainfly, a trekking pole that broke in half, a tent that flew 300 meters up a mountain side and suffered a bent pole and a whole in the fabric, a gaiter that on the first day of use fell apart, new boots that just five weeks in tore stitching and became waterlogged…

Andean Condor next to Poincenot, Fitzroy Range, Patagonia Argentina

Andean Condor next to Poincenot, Fitzroy Range, Patagonia Argentina

Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre

Wild weather, 100 foot high water spouts from two converging storms on the W Trek in Chile.

Wild weather, 100 foot high water spouts from two converging storms on the W Trek in Chile.

Hiking Piltriquitron in the Andes and the Sculptured Forest

Hiking Piltriquitron in the Andes and the Sculptured Forest

Maureen Eversgerd enjoying Yerba Mate at Refugio Piltriquitron.

Maureen Eversgerd enjoying Yerba Mate at Refugio Piltriquitron.

Athlete Sponsorship Reform

Every year 1000s of athletes receive promotional items and monetary bonuses from many companies promoting their brand or image, a cost that is passed along to the customer.  The concept is pretty simple: customers purchase items that athletes use.  But why specifically do customers purchase these items.  Do they feel that mimicking the superficial look of an athlete or using the same equipment as an athlete will make them perform like the athlete?  Or are they inspired by the athlete and using or wearing the same products as an athlete reminds them of that inspiration?


We hope customers purchase an item for the latter reason and in other more “traditional” sports, live broadcasts provide exceptional and consistent inspiration.  As a child, when I caught a Saturday afternoon baseball game on TV, I could only sit and watch two innings before I was outside playing baseball.  But sports in the outdoor industry are unlike most, where many athletes travel to remote locations that few of us will ever experience and a portion of these athletes spend so much time in these remote locations, they cannot connect with the fans.  It’s hard to inspire if you can only physically connect with the fans via satellite communications and a few words once a month.  If this does not inspire, then what are the customers receiving for the extra cost of the product?


At Figure Four, we want the customers to be inspired by the individuals we sponsor.  That’s why we promote individuals with an adventurous spirit that inspire our customers to go climb, go hike, go explore, basically to get outside and have an adventure.  For example, we love seeing the Smiley’s videos of their adventures in North America and they inspire us to go out on our own adventures or remind us of Classics on our own checklist.


And we believe it is time for this change across the outdoor industry.


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Argentina and the eve of departure… The seemingly endless sorting, calling, canceling, updating, stuffing, culling, weighing, plotting, planning is about to end…

Pre airport weighing...

Pre airport weighing…

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Montana’s True Classic Rope Stretchers

When I think of truly classic single pitch waterfall ice climbs, certain falls seem to step up to a different platform than the competition. The “Uber-Classics” can range from stellar pillars like The Fang in Colorado to more seldom climbed waterfalls like: Too Cold To Fire in the South fork of the Shoshone. The Northwest holds a handful of textbook classics; Montana itself has quite a few. For Example; The Green Gully in Pine Creek ranks high on Montana’s list of classics. Or the well known Champagne Sherbet in the Lower Flanders drainage in Hyalite always seems to uphold it’s title as a “classic.” What these climbs have that separates them from the crowd is their length; they are full rope stretchers, full value from start to anchor. Amazing pitches of ice can leave you with an immense sense of accomplishment or leave you running with your tail tucked.

One climb that seems to match the exact profile of  “Uber-Classic” one pitch wonders in Montana is: The Hydromonster. This climb can “handle the load” if you will, with a short approach and minimalistic avalanche danger, it fits right in. Nestled in a typical Cooke City amphitheater on the Northeast face of Abiathar Peak, the journey to the climb from any real city is worth the experience in itself. Driving into Yellowstone National Park in the winter brings you into a wild place. Here there is more animal traffic than vehicular. If you follow a trail out here, the odds are it’s from bison or elk.

For those not familiar with climbing ice in Yellowstone, it’s a REAL treat. Climbs like Hydromonster, are what officially turn a treat into Creamy Pastry Dessert. Consider a trip to the cold brittle world of Yellowstone Ice next time you have a sweet tooth.

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