Saturday, August 30, 2008

Christiansborg Rundt - swimming 2 km around the Danish Parliament

Today I participated in the 2 km open water swimming contest Christiansborg Rundt for the second time. It is a great race in the harbour of Copenhagen swimming in the canals surrounding Christiansborg Palace - the place of the Danish Parliament.

This year I completed the race in 47 minutes 24 seconds which is 36 seconds better than my 2006 time - and this year the route was even 100 meter longer than in 2006! I was thus quite happy with myself although I realize it is not an Olympic record! I ended as number 328 out of 411 males - so at least I was not last in the race :-) I was also just happy not to freeze my but off in the 18 °C cold water!

It is a great event with a lovely atmosphere and it is just fun to watch the oldest part of Copenhagen from that angle!

The start of my heat.

I had enough surplus of energy to wave to the photograph (= my wife Elvira who could not participate this time because of her recent delivery of our baby).

You get to swim past some of the most famous buildings in Copenhagen such as the Royal Library "Black Diamond" seen on the left (I am a little dot in the water on the right).

Even number 328 gets a medal :-)


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sofie - day 1

Day 1 in Sofie's life. We are still at Hvidovre Hospital were they are taking VERY good care of us. Sofie is now sleeping a lot better than the first 24 hours which is probably due to the fact that she is drinking a lot more milk now. Great as this allows the parents to sleep more as well :-)

Below a few pictures of the day:

The wrinkled hand.

Grandpa's hand.

Sleeping after a nice meal.

Sofie in full size = 51 cm.

Well, its about time that this website return to its focus on climbing :-) Future updates will thus be posted on my wife's blog which is dedicated to Sofie! Take a look at the pre-birth ultrasound scans and more....

Previous posts.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Baby Sofie Frederikke Bräuner has been born!

At 00:27 on August 20, 2008 my baby girl Sofie Frederikke Bräuner was born. Both mom and baby are perfectly well and sleeping as I write this blog. It took less than 30 minutes from our arrival to the hospital until the baby was born, so that was almost an Olympic record!

Sofie is 51 cm long. weighs 3244 grams, is very beautiful and looks like she will become a strong climber!

Elvira and Sofie just after the birth. What a chock to get out into the real world!

Sofie shortly after birth and still wet.

Sofie finally sleeping after a restless first night.

Sofie with open blue eyes.

The lucky father and Sofie.

Previous posts.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cerro San Lorenzo - free lecture on September 4

I will give a lecture [in Danish] on my trip to Cerro San Lorenzo, Patagonia, Argentina on Thursday September 4 at 8 PM.

Danish Alpine Club
Løvstræde 8a, 3rd floor (entrance in the courtyard)

Free entrance - all are welcome!

Previous posts.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cerro San Lorenzo part 6 - descent and route 40 home

The next morning (June 20) we woke up to lenticular clouds and a beautiful halo around the sun. Looked like bad weather was coming our way and we thus packed our stuff to begin our descent. Also we were running out of food, gas and time which made the choice easy.

The halo around the sun
[photo by Carlos Buhler].

As mentioned in part 4 it would not be fun to descent the frozen ravine that we ascended from the Rio Oro valley and we thus decided to descent into Chile although we didn't know what we would meet that way. That also made that descent route more interesting and we thus walked North from the Camp 1 plateau over a ridge and descended into a gully.

Carlos at the ridge North of Camp 1 where we descended into Chile.

The gully soon changed into a snowfield with packed snow - wished we´d had those conditions the day before yesterday on our approach to our intended route! At this point we also noted a big lake which I remembered from an internet photo - we were on the right way as the Refugio Toni Rohrer (a.k.a. the Agostini hut) would be just North of the lake in the forest!

Carlos descending the snowfield. Note the big lake. The Refugio Toni Rohrer is located in the forest behind the lake left of the river.

We stayed on the snowfield until we reached the flat part of the glacier seen on the right on the picture above. The conditions were perfect and only once did we have to rappel to get down two steep steps.

Carlos rappelling the steep steps.

Eventually we crossed the glacier to get to the left side of the lake as the right side looked steep and exposed to rock fall. Also, we were convinced that we would find the path of the normal route on that side of the lake (which we did).

A look back at our descent route from the col on the left. Initially we descended the rocky snowfield until we were forced onto the lower part of the glacier at which point we crossed it. We then descended the moraine (as seen here) until we joined the path of the normal route marked by cairns.

On the left side of the lake we followed the moraine until we found the path of the normal route which was marked with cairns. The path led us to the Toni Rohrer hut which we checked out but decided not to use - it was not particularly cosy and we had to pay to stay there which would be a hassle.

The Toni Rohrer hut (a.k.a. The Agostini hut) - the base camp of the normal route.

The hut can be reached by horse and there was thus a nice trail out of the valley which we hiked until it got dark. Sat up camp in the forest and the next morning we hiked the last bit to Puesto Muñoz.

Carlos hiking the last bit back to Puesto Muñoz.

We had a last lunch with the cowboys and then drove of - we had to catch our airplanes in Buenos Aires (2500 km away) in three days! Instead of driving the same way "home" via the ocean route 3, we decided to drive North via Routa 40 following the Andes mountain chain. It was a much more beautiful drive which I can highly recommend. In particular the town El Bolsen and the Rio Negro area was extremely beautiful, where Bariloche was a overrated dump with ugly slum ghettos (at least the parts we were driving through).

The beautiful hippie town El Bolsen with its motto "Zona No Nuclear"!

The lake in the center of El Bolsen.

The beautiful Rio Negro area.

Mountains of the Rio Negro area.

Final reflexions:
Back in Denmark a month later it is time to reflect on the trip. Obviously we did not reach our primary goal of a new route on the East faces of Cerro San Lorenzo, but yet I would not call the trip a failure. We found a new approach to the mountain, made the first ascent of a rock tower, saw the beautiful landscapes of Argentina (all together we drove 6500 km!), and had a great time with all the people we met on our way.

The mountain has a huge potential for new routes on the East, South and North-East faces and there are plenty of rock towers waiting for their first ascent. You will have to work a lot harder for these first ascents than doing an alpine climb in e.g. Chamonix, but you will for sure have a much greater adventure!

GPS coordinates
Oh, and then just one last thing: a map of the area with our place marks. Click here to download a Google Earth file with our GPS coordinates (krz file format which you need the free program to open).

Google Earth map with our place marks.

Read the previous parts of the story:
Part 1: Cerro San Lorenzo - getting there.
Part 2: Cerro San Lorenzo - advanced base camp.
Part 3: Cerro San Lorenzo - life at Puesto Muñoz.
Part 4: Cerro San Lorenzo - attempt on Cerro San Lorenzo.
Part 5: Cerro San Lorenzo - ascent of Aguja de Rune.

Previous posts.

Or go to my homepage to read other climbing stories:


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cerro San Lorenzo part 5 - ascent of Aguja de Rune

The next morning (June 19) the weather was still perfect and we thus packed all our rock gear and walked over to the peak we had picked out.

Carlos getting ready to climb the peak behind him.

This time the approach was extremely simple as we just followed our tracks from yesterday to a rocky ridge which we initially climbed unroped. As the exposure increased halfway over we roped up, and Carlos lead about a rope-length of scramble mainly by just swinging the ropes back and forth between the rocks on the ridge. At the bottom of the steep wall, he established a belay and secured my passage across the ridge.

Carlos (in green Gore-Tex) building an anchor at the base of the steep climbing. Great view and great exposure!

Next Carlos started leading what would become the first pitch following a crack system starting directly above the belay and then trending rightwards.

Carlos taking the first step onto the vertical wall of pitch 1.

The first pitch was climbed by a combination of drytooling, free climbing and semi-artificial climbing (i.e. resting on pro while figuring out the next moves).

Carlos leading pitch 1.

Eventually he disappeared around the corner to the South face at which point the rock got loose and he thus progressed slowly as he cleaned the loose rocks away. After ~4 hrs he yelled "Secure" and I followed as quickly as possible by a mix of free moves and pulling on gear.

Carlos at the second belay.

The next pitch initially followed a corner crack which was unfortunately too wide for our friends. There was not many other features to accept our pro but luckily there was several suspect looking chock stones in the crack which Carlos could then use as pro by putting slings around them. Given the wide crack and lack of features on the walls he decided to aid the first part of the pitch as there was not much to hold on to with his hands or icetools.

Carlos aid-climbing pitch 2 with "on-the-spot-made" etriers.

Once he got above the vertical wall, the steepness declined and the climbing got easier, but also loose again! It was thus slow and careful going. The sun was now setting, and I was thus very happy when I heard Carlos yell "I am on the summit!"

Video from the summit of Aguja de Rune.

Again I climbed as quickly as possible by a combination of free moves and pulling on gear - we wanted to get down before it got completely dark as we only had one headlamp with us! When I got to the summit we hugged and yelled "YES!" - we finally managed to climb a new route! What a great felling!

Video of Carlos rappelling from Aguja de Rune.

While Carlos rappelled the route I was left on the summit in almost complete darkness. There was no wind or sound and I had the most spectacular 360° view with Cerro San Lorenzo glooming in the moonlight. What a great feeling to just sit there for a few minutes enjoying the exhilaration of a first ascent!

Rock needles seen from the summit of Aguja de Rune.

Back in the tent we discussed what name to give the peak. Carlos and I met for the first time in 2003 while ice climbing in Rjukan, Norway. He was there with his wife, Christa-Lee Mitchell, and I was there with three of my Danish friends, Rune Klausen, Sune Hermit and Carsten P. Cooper-Jensen. Regretable, Rune died in a rappelling accident on Pyramide du Tacul, Chamonix, France in August 2005, and given that we both knew him, I suggested to name the peak in his honour. Carlos quickly agreed, and we thus named the peak Aguja de Rune (Rune's Needle in English, Aiguille du Rune in French). We also discussed which grade to give the climb. Free climbing in the summer in friction shoes it would probably be French grade 5c (US 5.8) and the way we climbed the route it involved aid A2+ and drytooling D5 sections.

Aguja de Rune seen from the tent after our ascent. Summit of Cerro San Lorenzo is seen in the back in the upper righthand corner.

The next day we descended into a valley on the Chilean side and then drove back to Buenos Aires to catch our airplanes. Read more about that in the next post: Cerro San Lorenzo part 6 - descent and route 40 home.

Previous parts:
Part 1: Cerro San Lorenzo - getting there.
Part 2: Cerro San Lorenzo - advanced base camp.
Part 3: Cerro San Lorenzo - life at Puesto Muñoz.
Part 4: Cerro San Lorenzo - attempt on Cerro San Lorenzo.

Previous posts.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cerro San Lorenzo part 4 - attempt on Cerro San Lorenzo

On June 17 we finally got our weather window. We took off from Puesto Muñoz early, got up to our advanced base camp where picked up our stuff and kept on going. We walked along the North side of the upper lake and then climbed up the ravine towards the col as we had previously planned [read part 2 for details].

Carlos climbing the ravine. I was glad that the rocks were frozen solid into the ground. In the summer this would be very prone to rock fall/slides. However, as it was steep in places and not possible to secure, it would not be fun to descent this way....

We were very excited to see the terrain on the other side of the col. Would it be possible to get on the glacier and would the glacier be passable???

Looking down from the col towards Carlos and the upper glacier lake.

We were thus very happy when we reached the col and saw that it took us directly onto the glacier with snow-filled crevasses. Our strategy of circumventing the lower heavily broken glacier had succeeded :-)

Carlos on the col walking towards a big plateau where we put up camp. North face of Cerro San Lorenzo on the left.
Our route is in the corner between the North and East face above the red dot.

We had ascended from 500 m (Puesto Muñoz) to 2000 m and the sun was setting. We thus put up our tent and crossed our fingers that the perfect weather would continue the next day where we hoped to reach the base of our route.

Panorama video from the col.

Our camp on the plateau with an excellent view of the North & East face of Cerro San Lorenzo.

Looking South from our camp towards El Rincón and the moon.

The next morning we woke up to another day of perfect weather and a stunning view of the North/East face of Cerro San Lorenzo. Our line looked awesome - now we just had to get there, which meant approximately 2-3 km horizontal and 750 meter vertical approach.

Close-up of the North face of Cerro San Lorenzo. The big couloir in the middle has previously been climbed - our route was the couloir/ice line on the right.

We roped up for glacier travel and started walking. Initially it was easy going as the plateau was wind blown, but as soon as we got close to the East face the snow got deep and fluffy.

Easy going on the plateau.

Tough going in the lay side of the East face....

Eventually, the snow got so deep and unconsolidated that we walked in snow to the middle of our thighs.

Carlos making tracks in thigh deep snow among seracs and deep crevasses. Not a fun place to be in!

We had walked 1/4 of the distance to the route in 1/2 day and the snow was just getting deeper and deeper. We thus realized that it was pointless to continue towards the route. It would take us at least 2 days of very hard work to get to the base of the route, which would leave us with little food, gas and energy to climb the route and descent [we had brought 3-4 days of supplies].

Carlos taking two steps in 10 sec. Deep snow!

At this point we thus decided to turn around and walk back to the plateau. What a disappointment!

We had actually brought randonnee skies for this situation, but they were back in base camp and we didn't have time to go down and get them as we had to leave for Buenos Aires in a few days. We were completely surprised by the large amount of snow on the upper glacier as there was hardly any snow further down the mountain. However, we later rationalized this peculiar phenomenon as follows: the wind always blew from West to East and thus blew the snow over the large East face where the snow would then accumulate at its base. Thus, albeit there had been only little snowfall this season it had all accumulated on our approach route!

A disappointed Carlos climbing back to the plateau camp with the heavily broken glacier and the North face of Cerro San Lorenzo in the background.

However, we didn't give up that easy and thus started looking for other objectives close to our camp on the plateau.

There was certainly lots of opportunities for rock climbs on the many rock needles surrounding the camp:

Lots of rock needles surrounded our camp, screaming for first ascents!!!

Aguja de Rune
[photo by Carlos Buhler].

The next morning (June 19) we decided to give the rock needle above a go. We loved its beauty shooting directly out of the glacier all alone.....

Read the next part of the story: Cerro San Lorenzo part 5 - ascent of Aguja de Rune.

Previous parts:
Read part 1: Cerro San Lorenzo - getting there.
Read part 2: Cerro San Lorenzo - advanced base camp.
Read part 3: Cerro San Lorenzo - life at Puesto Muñoz.

Previous posts.


Cerro San Lorenzo part 3 - life at Puesto Muñoz

As noted in part 2 we had more than two weeks of unstable weather after our arrival. Luckily, we had a great base camp at Puesto Muñoz and great company from the cowboys Martin Sar and Jose Louis who were taking care of the place. Also, there was a steady stream of visitors from the neighbouring farms which made life in base camp very entertaining.

View of Puesto Muñoz (lower left corner), the river bed, the valley of Rio Oro (our approach) and Cerro San Lorenzo (in the background).

Nevertheless, waiting for a weather window was getting increasingly frustrating and I don't know how many times I looked at my Suunto watch to see if the barometric pressure was rising. Several times the pressure was moving up towards the high point we had noted upon our arrival in good weather and we thus walked up to our advanced base camp ready to continue up the next morning, but every time we were disappointed by bad weather and low pressure the next morning and thus returned to Puesto Muñoz.
So how do you spend +2 weeks in a base camp without going nuts? Well, we hiked a lot, ate a LOT of meat, slept a lot, read books and magazines, and just followed life of Argentinian cowboys which was quite interesting. Below is a selection of pictures illustrating our life at Puesto Muñoz:

Carlos on one of the many surrounding hills that we hiked. The Rio Oro towards Bajo Caracoles (our 4x4 approach) is seen in the back.

Carlos crossing the Rio Oro. There was not too much water in it, but it was still a challenge to cross it without getting our feet wet.

Carlos cleaving wood for the stove.

Carlos cutting a piece of meet for our dinner. We had an unlimited supply of premium quality meet from the cowboys!

Martin Sar with a leg of pork. When we arrived they had half a cow hanging in the shed which they eventually got tired of eating. Martin then rode his horse to his house at Lake Brown (3 hrs each way) to get us some pork

Later they also got sheep to the Puesto Muñoz, one of which was immediately slaughtered.....

Jose Louis with his horse and dog. He had been hired to make a 10 km animal fence, which he expected to complete in 2 years!!! They certainly had a different kind of time perception.....

The cowboys did not like foxes and rabbits as they ate lamb and grass, respectively. Here Jose Louis had caught a fox and tried to train his dogs to hunt them by giving them a scent of the meat.....

The fox fur drying inside out.

The skeleton of a previously caught fox hanging close to Puesto Muñoz to scare off other foxes....

Martin Sar was trapping rabbits to sell the meat for 3 US$ per rabbit. He caught 2-5 rabbits per day in ~1000 string traps. In his opinion they were an ecological disaster introduced by the European settlers as they were eating all the grass and breeding like crazy (and thus out-competing the endogenous species).

The first week the weather was not bad, but not great either. We had thus left our tent standing in advanced base camp which turned out to be a big mistake when we got 5 days of bad windy weather. When we returned to the advanced base camp after the storm we found the tent in a stream 15 meters from the camp site.....

The wind had torn one of the strings off and rocks had poked a few holes in it, but luckily we could repair the damages with our repair kit and gaffa tape!

A couple of days after the storm the barometric pressure increased and we finally got our weather window - 5 days of perfect weather where we finally got our chance to climb the mountain.....

Read that story in part 4 - attempt on Cerro San Lorenzo.

Previous parts:
Read part 1: Cerro San Lorenzo - getting there.
Read part 2: Cerro San Lorenzo - advanced base camp.

Previous posts.