Patagonia update; our first training days

It’s been 10 days since we arrived in El Chalten and we’ve already learned so much. Our first module was hiking but we were so impatient to climb some rocks that most of us went bouldering already. So what does it look like when you first start the Patagonia program? On the first weekend we arrived a small bouldering festival was happening in the city. A good opportunity for all of us to get initiated from the start. The boulders are just 10 minutes away from the hostel, close by to an indoor bouldering gym so every time we are off training we often run to it. 
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On Monday, we started our first hiking week. Our hostel being situated in El Chalten, that means we live just next door to the famous National Park de Los Glaciares. No better place to get started. After a short preparation on Sunday, we went for our first full day hike with Esteban, our local guide. A grey and rainy day to the Lago de Torre with a timid view on the glacier but a good introduction to the program. The second day, we went to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, a magnificent point of view of our daily neighbor : Fitz Roy. A good opportunity to learn some more skills about guiding and to hear some history about the area. Wednesday morning was our classroom day. We’ve been preparing in two groups, our first two-day hike. A good way to get our map skills ok to calculate the times and distances for two days, to list the gear to take, to think about the food, and mentally prepare for our first overnight hike…
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Wednesday afternoon was time for a surprise! Horse Riding in the Patagonian desert… I’ve never been riding horses in such a beautiful environment before and this was just magical. Being on this dry land, observing Fitz Roy from far, being surrounded by mountains, lakes and river… Beautiful… Sharing this kind of moment on a first week program was definitely a bonding experience for the whole group. Good laughter and good memories while exploring the wild plains… 
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On Thursday and Friday, we went on our first camping trip. Perfect opportunity to try out the gear, our shoes and our backpacks. Good test to also find out what’s the best weight we can individually carry and to see what we remember from what we’ve been learning so far! Once at the campsite, we dropped our gear and went for the summit hike, to discover the incredible Laguna de los Tres. A steep and frequented way up but a breathtaking view at the top… There are no words to describe how small I seemed to be up there, how happy I was, and how alive I felt… Our 30 minutes break planned became an hour as we were enjoying it too much to end it…
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Saturday was our first self-leading day. A little bit of homework given by Logan : time to start preparing the climbing week and learn some knots. Good timing also to sit and write down all the things we’ve learned so far : how to orientate a map, how to find North without a compass, how to use a compass, how to pack our backpack as a guide for a day hike, how to pack light for a 2 day hike, how to read a weather map, how to guide a group, what kind of food we should take and what information is good to give to a group before, during and after a hike. Sunday, fun day. It was our first day off but most of us went out for a hike or a bouldering session before hanging out for a drink or an (incredible) Dulce de Leche ice cream in town. We’ve been having a surprisingly sunny week so we tried to make the most of it. With this weather, everything feels like summer here. Apparently, we need to stop getting used to it as we’ve been very lucky; the rain, the cold and the clouds should come back at some point. But it doesn’t matter, El Chalten definitely feels like home! As we learn on the go, our classroom view changes everyday and makes everything we learn a little bit more real and exciting. All the self-development tools and exercises we’ve done so far with Logan are also a big part of the program. We all get to analyze and reflect on ourselves as we go further into it. If we want to be good guides, we definitely need to know ourselves better.
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It’s Tuesday morning here and we’ve been starting our first climbing week. We spent our full Monday hanging from the rocks and that was awesome. Some of us were quite nervous about it but we all had so much fun. It’s good to see everyone progressing already.
I can’t wait to tell you more about this!
I’ll write you soon.
Coralie.

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