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  • Fly to: Santiago, Chile

  • Internal Transfer: Santiago - Cohaique

  • Visa required: Not if British

  • Currency:Chilean Peso

  • Time Zone:-3hrs GMT

  • Journal:Click here

Day 14, 17/11/07 - Patagonia Northern Icecap

Up at 3:10am, Ariel made breakfast (hmm perhaps things were changing); once again we were the last to eat and no drinks had been made, so we decided to just concentrate on gobbling our food (after all it would only confuse Ariel and take way too long). Today we were to begin our descent from the snow line down to the beach from which the following day we would be collected by a boat.

The snow was once again very soft and we were continuously punching through, luckily though it wasn't long before we were off the white stuff. We then picked a route along a rocky ridge, the rocks were heavily covered in moss and the damp conditions made them extremely slippery. As we progressed further through some trees and over more rocks Nic managed to somehow swing on a tree branch, spinning 180 degrees & crashing her down onto a big boulder.

By now Ariel was again miles behind the rest of the group had to guide every one of her steps; the group was eventually zeroed & it was announced that Ariel could no longer carry the weight in her backpack. Every group member had to take some item off Ariel. For me the worst part about it was that she didn't appear to be in anyway bothered or even embarrassed by this, or even grateful for that matter (if it were me I would have had to have been dragging it along the floor before I'd let others carry my weight).

We then continued, travelling further down the ridge, once again we were zeroed and we were told that we'd have to each take it in turns to come back up and carry down Ariel's backpack, relay style. Thankfully Dale & Evans suggested we just empty her pack and leave her with no weight at all, this was clearly a better option. Our packs were now significantly heavier and Ariel was now only carrying her water and sleeping bag(s).

We then came a cross a steep moraine wall, with the only way down being to repel, I think I would have preferred to abseil (more control) but either way I wasn't too bothered. Jaya suggested that I stay on top to help her set up a secondary zip-line system for the backpacks. Everyone was down; the zip line was set up and the first backpack was heading down on safety; it travelled exceptionally slowly and grounded out way before it reached the guys.

After sending about 5 packs down, Jaya said, 'don't put a safety on Ian's pack, they're travelling so slowly and they're not reaching the end of the rope, so it's just a waste of time'. 'Are you sure?' I asked and then sent down the pack with no safety back-up. I couldn't see anything because I was too far back from the edge, but I could tell the pack was travelling a lot faster than the others. Then Jaya leaped about in a panic, shouting 'OMG I've really hurt Ben, I've really hurt Ben!' I still had no idea what was going on. We waited about 20mins and then sent the remaining packs down with the safety ON.

I then repelled down and when I reached the bottom Ben asked if I'd forgotten to put the safety on, when I said 'no' he said, 'don't worry if you f*cked up the knot', to which I replied, 'no, I didn't tie a knot, we'd decided because they were bottoming out, the safety seemed unnecessary'. He was clearly dumbfounded by that statement and then said, 'well, I guess I feel more comfortable if it was a conscious decision than if one of you had f*cked up' (hmmm he was pretty peed off & so would I be).

Everyone in the group then took it in turns to ask whether I'd f*cked up the knot, not a great feeling but obviously I was fully conscious of the severity of what had just taken place. Nic said they knew something was wrong with the speed it came down, and that if it hadn't have bounced before it hit him it could have killed him. Again scary sh*t; I'm glad I couldn't see what Jaya & I had inflicted on the guy in real time. Nic also commented that Ariel, G.P come budding expedition medic, didn't move at all to help Ben or to see if he was OK, hmm something's definitely not right there. Jaya then repelled down, and before we set off again explained to group what had happened and why there was no safety on the zip; she was teary and had been clearly affected by the potential severity of the situation.

We progressed down next to the river, boulder hopping as we went, this seemed pretty endless and eventually terrain changed and we had to endure somemore bush-whacking (oh how I'd missed that). We then came across a fairly quick moving river, Jaya went to step across, and I'm sure for everyone it was one of those moments when you're exhausted and thinking, 'hmm I wouldn't step on...' Before anyone could react Jaya was face down in the water being pulled along & under, Ian & Evans both de-packed and jumped in to help her out; she was drenched. We then had to cross the river; Nic said, 'our feet are already wet so I'm just gonna walk through', this seemed the general consensus as we were all too tired to frig around. Evans got into an argument with Ben & Jaya because he didn't want to get wet feet; I just felt like saying, 'shut the f*ck up Evans & get on with it before she kills you, the poor woman's emotionally drained, cold, wet and knackered, don't be a prick!'

Today had been a miserable day and I was feeling exhausted probably in the main due to the responsibility I felt over the zip-line incident, I still felt I should have put the safety on irrespective. When we eventually got to the camp spot - 'pebble beach'; Nic, Ian & I had a fag whilst Ariel said she'd go and get the water. Needless to say Ariel never got around to getting the water, so Ian did. Nic & I pitched the tent and Ariel said she'd do the cooking; for some strange reason she'd taken all our stuff out of our packs & left it strewn across the ground in the rain! Turns out what she was doing was taking back all the gear we'd been carrying for her, leaving all our stuff rudely scattered about.

I was fuming, it'd be a long day, emotionally draining (plus the zip-line cock-up), I was wet, exhausted and I really didn't want my personally gear wet as well. I said to Nic there was absolutely no way I was going to go over and do the cooking, sit out eating in the rain with Ariel; no f*cking way! I got into bed (fuming!) and Ben appeared to ask what was wrong, I said, 'it was personal and if I'm having issues with anything or anyone its down to me and I'll either sort it or just distance myself until I'm big enough to get over it'. He said he was more than happy with that; that Jaya was also well and truly f*cked off and she'd gone to bed as well; he said the Arja situation had pretty much taken its toll on everyone. Needless to say Ariel never got around to doing the cooking, so Nic ended up doing it (to my further annoyance); bless her for the angel that she is because it takes a bigger person than me to just get on and do it. She brought me some in the tent, it was damn good; probably the best meal I'd had to date but I really wished she hadn't of because I just felt awful - incredibly selfish & childish.