Blogs

Haciendo patria en Aysén

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La primera vez que llegue a Aysén en el verano del año 1983 como un estudiante de Sociología en busca de material para una tesis de grado, llegar a la región no era tan fácil como hoy. Tuvimos que conseguir una embarcación que fue la barcaza río cisnes, que solo con la buena voluntad del capitán embarcarnos en Puerto Montt, hacia Puerto Aysén. El recorrido duró tres días, y compartimos el viaje con 200 vacunos que iban a Melinka, durmiendo en el puente a la intemperie. Al llegar a Puerto Aysén, nos embarcamos en un camión muy peculiar de marca Internacional atestado de carga y gente, demoramos unas ocho horas en llegar a Coyhaique. Para llegar a Puerto Ibáñez a tomar la barcaza que nos conduciría a Puerto Guadal por el lago General Carrera, tuvimos que hacer a pie los 110 km, ya que no había una línea de buses que hiciera regularmente el recorrido; demoramos 3 días y no paso ni un vehiculo que nos alzara, solo horas antes de la salida de la barcaza empezó la procesión de vehículos particulares pero nada mas, y ninguno nos alzo. Luego tomamos la barcaza y navegamos doce horas por un lago rebelde, malicioso y chucaro, de una belleza que me conmovió, en condiciones bastante precarias; con un baño inmundo, lleno de vomito con acomodaciones para 10 pasajeros, e iban por lo menos 90.

 

Paso San Carlos: National Monument?

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An unprotected Laguna San Rafael National Park

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Caleta Tortel and defining progress

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Several years ago, on my first trip down the entire length of southern Chile’s spectacular Carretera Austral, or Southern Highway -- a 1240-kilometer journey from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins -- on the return trip northward I had one of my most memorable adventures as a journalist.
 

A four day trek around Fitz Roy

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"It's called the Guillaumet pass. It's generally used by climbers. There's a little crevasse danger but as long as the weather holds it'd be fine. You'd be right underneath Monte Fitz Roy."
 
The e-mail I'd opened was from a 29-year old Argentinean mountain guide, Pedro Fina. I'd first met Pedro in 2004, when he was one of two guides I'd had on a 4-week trekking expedition in South America. During that trip, we'd climbed a glacier beside two of the great peaks of the Patagonian Andes, Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, and traversed a small portion of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap, a flat expanse of thick ice - 13,000km2 - that flows west from the mountains and down into the Pacific Ocean.
 

Condors in Patagonia

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The sight of any soaring bird - an eagle, hawk, or even a gull - is a special thrill that always stops me in my tracks. The hope that I might see an Andean condor, the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere, was a major incentive for my travels to Patagonia. In North American, the condor was nearly extinct by 1964. Our forefathers murdered them wholesale, out of sheer whimsy, or the mistaken thought that condors killed livestock. The only use of a dead condor, that I've heard of, were the quills of the large feathers that miners collected for stashing their gold dust.
 

Interview with Francisco Vio: Aysen, the outdoors and its future

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If there is anyone who knows the outdoors in Aysen Patagonia it is Francisco Vío, president of the Coyhaique-based Escuela de Guias de la Patagonia, or Patagonia Guide School. He is also the organizer of the now biannual outdoors adventure race Desafio Aysen, which last month held its winter event and in January will host its second annual summer event. Vio, 42, has explored Patagonia since his youth, and begain working in Aysen in the mid-1990s teaching outdoors education and guiding at the National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS). He has also been involved in environmental education, developing an Aysen-wide project about protected areas in the region and teaching a course for park guards in Aysen. Recently, I spoke with Vio about his ongoing projects, tourism in Aysen, the controversial HydroAysen dam project (he is against), and other topics. Excerpts:
 
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