Surprisingly enough, the dream of crossing the most technical icefields was born neither on snow, nor ice. Its roots lay beneath the heat of summer, up among the alpine towers of Malyovitza valley – the most beautiful location in Rila mountain and the cradle of Bulgarian alpinism.
We were on a photo shoot there with our friend Viktor Varoshkin – one of the premier IFMGA certified guides in the country.
Sometime between hanging off sheer granite faces and tip-toeing razor sharp rock ridges, he just blurted it out:
– Hmm, Bran…I think a crossing of the Southern Patagonian Icefield is just the thing for you!
I guess he had remembered looking upon the icefield from the summit of Cerro Torre. Although vastly horizontal, the expanse of this enormous ice cap must have captivated even Viktor – a stout worshiper and apprentice of the brutally hard and vertical.
My initial reaction was to dismiss his crazy notions and just crack on with the rope and camera work at hand.
I was nowhere near the necessary level of technical skill and experiense to undertake a crossing along the entire 400-km length of the SPI.
Fast forward a season in the Alps and a few solo glacier ceossings above 4000m, and you’ll find me in a crazy friend’s yard, sipping tea and discussing what our next project should be. Naturally, Viktor’s idea to cross the SPI was the first to come to mind.
So we started researching, gathering all available data on previous attempts and planning.
Typical for nowadays’ adventures we put up a website, managed to find sponsors for all the necessary equipment and announced our project to cross the SPI along its length to the local mountaineering community…
All was well and good until we saw Viktor’s comment to our facebook announcement:
– “Good luck guys! This will be epic! However, I meant you should traverse the ice field across its width, not its length!”
…so here we were, laughing our heads off to this “minor” misunderstanding and heading off to our first reconnaissance expedition in Southern Patagonia…