I look down at Alex Honnold for reassurance. His back has stiffened; his eyebrows are slightly furrowed. “Dude, you got this,” he says. “You’re a total boss.” What have I gotten us into? I wonder. Just three days ago, we were walking down the newly paved streets of El Chaltén, our footsteps quick with anticipation. Alex had never been to Patagonia before.
To the west, the evening sky washes in pale purple. Far below, the shadow of the Fitz Roy massif stretches across the eastern plains: steep, sharp lines that shoot up and down the jumbled glacier and beyond to rolling brown grasslands. I can track our position on the range by looking at its cast silhouette. It’s February 13, 2014. Two days into our climbing, Alex and I are nearing the top of Fitz Roy, not even halfway into our journey...(Continued)