the suggestion of Taulliraju had gotten both Rob and I excited. this would be what we were after, a long, hard and sustained outing that would push us to the limit both mentally and physically. we were thinking of trying the Italian Butress(VI, WI6, M6) but had also heard rumors that the un-climbed direct might be in condition. the plan was to take food and supplies in, and have a sniff about to see what was in.
after stocking up on coffee, food and plenty of snacks we made our way once more to the trailhead of the Santa Cruz valley. this time however we were early enough to do the approach in a day. our young arriero was very helpful and by late afternoon we were pitching basecamp and staring up at the imposing south-west face of Taulliraju. i was awestruck, it was the most beautiful thing i had ever seen in the flesh. we picked up our small binoculars and starting trying to see what was happening up on the face. a passing trekker lent us his much better pair and we could get right up close, and soon see how things looked.
the direct looked good. at least through the binoculars! if what looked like ice didnt prove to be the infamous powder on rock the Andes often serves up, there would only be a short rock section to join the two ice smears. being fit, acclimatised and psyched out of our heads, we would go try and get the first ascent of this incredible line. we would never forgive ourselves if we didnt at least try!
after a rest day prepaing food and a meagre rack we settled into to reading books before heading up to bivy on the glacier the next day. at 5am however disaster struck. the pitter-patter of rain drops slowly started increasing on my tent, and soon it was pouring steadily. poking my head out of the entrance it looked grim. barely able to se the moraine, this weather wasn´t just a passing shower. all day it poured down rain while up high it snowed. through the day we passed time reading in our tents getting more and more frustrated. we just wanted to go have an adventure, failure or success, it didnt matter as long as we could push the boat out and see what happened.
i finished my book shortly before Rob finished his. we swapped and kept this up till dinner time. hopefully this would clear during the night and we could depart a day late. all through the night it kept up and we woke to the same routine. more tea and reading passed the day. the weather showed no sign of improving and we were running out of time. with a plane to catch we made the decision to bail. up high would have too much snow and need to settle for a day or so and we just didnt have the time. an Arriero passed us with un-burdened donkeys and we soon arranged to be out that day.
all afternoon we walked and walked till we were out. tired at the end we were both disappointed we didnt even make it passed basecamp. when the locals continously tried to rip us off it was the last straw. nearly exploding with rage we caught a taxi and got out of there. soon we were back at Zarela's having showers and going out for beers to drown our sorrows. oh well, maybe next year. id much rather dream big and fail than never experience the restless nights before you push it to the limit, and discover what your truly capable of!