Karsten Delap Recaps Climbing in Patagonia: Gauchos, Wind, Gorgeous Photos and What He’d Do Differently

Last November, Ibex-sponsored athlete and AMGA-certified guide Karsten Delap, took off with two buddies to climb in Patagonia. It was Karsten’s first trip to the adventureland Mecca, and his trio was hoping to set a new route on Cerro San Lorenzo (12,159 feet). Turns out the weather had other plans.

To paraphrase E.M. Forster: Adventures occur, just not always at the time you expected. Regardless, each trip brings new stories and new insights, sometimes of the most straightforward variety.

[Read the Ibex Buzz pre-trip interview with Karsten here.]

Ibex Question (IQ): When you left in November, you’d never been to the Patagonian Andes, nor had you ever seen Cerro San Lorenzo, the peak you were hoping to climb. What did you find when you arrived?

Karsten Delap (KD): As a climber I had heard a lot about Patagonia and I would say it lived up to what I had perceived. [Cerro San Lorenzo] was big, very big! The terrain was wild – river crossings, refrigerator-sized talus fields that go on for miles, friendly gauchos, and 100-mph wind.

IQ: Sounds like it lives up to its wild and beautiful reputation. So, the weather wreaked havoc with your original goal. Inevitably, there’s an emotional context when your objectives change. How did you feel when you made the call?

KD: It was hard to turn back. We saw that the weather looked bad for the next week and we decided to leave to do some climbing in a region that appeared to have better weather. But we kept questioning if the forecast would be right. We did get some insight on this when another party with similar objectives came back and said they made no attempt.

IQ: It’s nice to have some confirmation – ex post facto. Any pleasant surprises from the “Plan B” adventure?

KD: We did get a little first ascent in on a nearby peak.

IQ: Are you stoked to go back to Patagonia?

KD: I would go back! I would spend much longer the next time though and would also like to explore further south. [Ed. Note: This trip was about 20 days long.]

IQ: So, every trip brings a new lesson or a new joke or something! What’s your takeaway from this trip? 

KD: We had tons of camera gear. Okay, not quite a ton. We really need to go with lighter equipment!

IQ: Ha! Great advice: Go light, especially when 100-mph winds are on the table. What’s up next for you?

KD: I am in New Hampshire right now finishing up the annual Fox Mountain Guides New Hampshire ice trip. The next big thing I have coming up right now is Kyrgyzstan in July. That should be a great trip!

Thanks, Karsten!