What we did one year ago…
Tuesday, 16th of December 2014
Today is a special day for us: exactly one year ago we landed on our peninsula, now we finished our EXPEDITION REPORT! Perfect reading material for the quiet and cold season. Feel free to download from the link below!
Busy week behind us
Monday, 27th of October 2014
Two big events within 4 days! It was a great experience for us to participate in the “el mundo 16”-festival and to share our story with an enthusiastic crowd of 500 people. Just 4 days earlier we had so much fun at the University of Graz, where we were presenting our full length program for the third time now in front of 60 people. Despite the fact that we are not that nervous any more as we were at our first presentation, our program slightly changes from event to event. There is always a little challenge between some photos, which are in or out, and no presentation is comparable to the other. So we can guarantee you for sure, that for our last event this year in Vienna, it´s also worth to come, if you already have joined us! Check out our event category!
AAJ – American Alpine Journal
Tuesday, 23rd of September 2014
We are very proud to have our page in this year´s issue of one of the most influential mountaineering magazines in the world. There are tons of outstanding climbs of the best mountaineers of our time who had great successes with their projects in 2014 and it feels definitely good to read our names among guys like Alex Honnold , David Lama or Camilo Rada. Although we didn´t have this extremely hard climbs at our expedition, the fact, that we discovered an unknown area and made five first ascents, especially on the highest peak of our peninsula, saved us a place within the big family of mountaineers who did first ascents, discovered the unknown, went out behind the frontier. And always remember: if it´s not documented, it never happened….
Camilo Rada – An interview with one of the most famous Chilean mountaineers
Tuesday, 15th of July 2014
Camilo Rada was our main contact when we were planning our expedition to Fireland. Just few month before our departure he and Natalia Martinez (ARG) were ascending the mythical Monte Sarmiento for the first time in the winter period. Check out our UNCHARTED section to read his comments!
El Mundo 2014
Monday, 16th of June 2014
We are very proud to inform you that we were chosen to be part of this year´s “el mundo” festival! The “el mundo”, which will be on the 24th/25th of October 2014 in Judenburg/Styria, is one the the most prestigious adventure festivals in the german speaking part of Europe. Just 14 adventures out of hundreds where chosen this year and we will have the chance to convince the jury in a 30-minute presentation. This will be a tough one as our biggest fans already know, that our premiere presentation lasted more than two hours. Anyway, we are looking forward to the next challenge for the Project Fireland team! Stay tuned!
UPDATE: The program is now available here!
Cerro Cristal, 1206m
Thursday, 15th of May 2014
It’s official! As indicated in the premiere presentation in Klagenfurt and according to the official IGM-map of the region we have ascented the highest mountain of the peninsula Buckland during our expedition for the very first time in human history. 1206m above the sea level it is shaped like a rock crystal, therefore we named it “CERRO CRISTAL”.
Big success at our premiere presentation!
Thursday, 8th of May 2014
On the 26th of April we held our first lecture at the University of Klagenfurt. We were part of the “8. Fest der Berge”, an annual event of the Austrian Alpine Association. It was also the world premier of the movie “Outland”, portraying our adventure in Patagonia. All in all we can say that we had a lot of fun during our lecture and we think, the audience liked it as well. But Klagenfurt was just the beginning. We plan on presenting the “Project Fireland” in Hermagor, Graz and Vienna. As soon as we have specific dates, you can find the information on our website. Just have a look at the “Events” category!
Project Fireland’s guide how to catch a beaver…..not!
Tuesday, 8th of April 2014
As you might know from the blog entries during our expedition, we were very keen on catching a beaver. We had a “how to catch and eat a wild beaver” lesson with a local adventurer before we left Punta Arenas. We even bought special equipment including a rope and some beaver odeur, which should attract the male. But: We were unlucky. You might want to know why?
We quickly tell you how to “usually” catch a beaver. In his territory, there is always an entrance and an exit which can be spotted very easily. You have to place the rope at the entrance or the exit, put on some of the special odeur on the rope, fix the rope to a tree or something stable and wait. The beaver guru in Punta Arenas told us, that they once had an expedition where they were able to catch 2 beavers every day, for three month. The meat is said to taste delicious and because they are like a plague, you even help the environment with killing them.
The reason for our failure: Our region did not have that much forest, so we were not even able to see beavers. Just one time, we could spot one swimming in a small lake, looking at us like we were stupid visitors who did not know anything. Plus: It was very cold during our stay, so we assume that some of them were still sleeping or hiding in their warm nests. But we are not sure about that.
Monday, 31st of March 2014
The first stop after we departured from our living place in Punta Arenas was the house of our “captain”, Marcello. We felt a little bit like acting in a Quentin Tarantino film because the place really looked like it was just built for a movie. We had some coffee, discussed the theory of the ocean currents in this area and how they interact with the weather and realized in some ways that life is really much slower at the end of the American mainland. Go to our “Gallery” page to see the album!
The “Fireland Diet”
Wednesday, 12th of March 2014
Starting the morning with semolina pudding and sugar, having some dried meat and cereal bars for lunch and rounding everything up with a decent pasta dinner, including lots of salt and herbs. If we compare the amount of food we are used to consume under normal circumstances, the quantity during our expedition was ridiculous. But keeping in mind that you have to carry each gram by yourself, you have to ration. The carbohydrates of polenta, pasta and rice should give us the energy for our tours. Dried meat and ingredients like oil and butter were our only sources of fat. Our only vegetables for one month were four avocados. This fact made them to one of our most valuable ingredient which we also used to fancy up our Christmas rice.
On the list below you can see how we planned our nutrition. One mistake would be a serious problem for the team and could lead to the breakup of the expedition. Fortunately, we all came back alive so the food was enough. Although some nights we started to dream about chocolate cake and wheat beer.
Working on big things!
Wednesday, 5th of March 2014
It´s been a while since our last homepage entry but the “Project Fireland” team is alive and we are working hard for the premiere event of our expedition. Whilst Leopold is already at home for more than one month, Phillip and Rainhard just came back from their epic South America road trip. Leopold is working on the film, which will be called “OUTLAND” and as you see he is making progress.
The picture below is the first frame grab of the film, and you see Rainhard and Phillip on the zodiac which brought us to our peninsula – yes it was wet, yes it was cold, yes it was awesome!
From now on we´ll again post more updates because as the film montage is coming to an end and the photos are already sorted out we are able to show you what we saw at the end of the world, not to forget, that you´ll get the full experience of our expedition at one of our events! So stay tuned!
Time to say “THANK YOU” to our sponsors!
Tuesday, 28th of January 2014
Time is flying and we´re already more than two weeks away from the mountain range, which became so familiar to us. Despite the fact, that two thirds of the “Project Fireland” team is still in South America, we are already working on our presentation, communicating with newspapers and surly in full contact with our sponsors, because they are really hungry for our stories and photos from the end of the world. Therefore it is the right time to say a big “THANK YOU” to all our sponsors which became part of our expedition and made this unforgettable adventure come true. We slept in the best sleeping bags for this wet area from Carinthia, walked in the most waterproofed Gore-Tex clothes from Gigasport, ate the most delicious dried meat from Jack Link’s, climbed with the best crampons on wet stones from Black Diamond, filmed with the most lightweight material sponsored by wdwfilm and were able to be brought to and picked up from the peninsula with the support from Dr. Xaver Justich and Ed.Hölzel. And last, but not least, we are very thankful for the help from our friends in Punta Arenas, the people from the expedition-events company NIGSA, who where helping us in so many ways!
We are back!
Thursday, 9th of January 2014
After a very challenging boat transfer in heavy wind and big waves conditions at the very rough triangle of the Sea-Straits in Fireland, we are finally back home – happy, but exhausted. On the picture above you see us on the glacier with two of our peaks we climbed, ecspecially the nice diamond on the left side was one of our main goals, because we still think that it is the highest peak of the peninsula. Stay tuned for more updates within the next days – first we have to acclimatize to civilization conditions again!
Rain, rain, rain and yes, more rain
Tuesday, 7th of January 2014
Not much has happened on the Monte Buckland peninsula since the last update. The expedition team was forced to stay inside their base camp for 7 days in a row. Strong wind and heavy rain made any explorations impossible. Since days the satellite telephone – the team’s only mode of communication with the outside world – is running low on battery and food is getting scare.
Therefore it is time to leave the peninsula.
Once decided, the logistical implementation still takes sometimes days. First the guys had difficulties with reaching their transportation contact. After contact was made, the weather conditions had to be checked. Especially wind is very important, because strong wind means high waves and then the boat would not be able to make the passage. Apparently there is a good weather window tomorrow midday. If everything works out smoothly, the team will be back to Punta Arenas tomorrow night or Thursday morning.
Philip, Leopold and Rainhard are looking forward to getting back to civilization. They haven’t had a warm shower, a comfortable bed, read a newspaper or just eaten fresh fruits and vegetables in weeks. The team had to go without a lot we take for granted in our daily lives, which left them with plenty of time to focus on other things. I am really curious about their stories – struggles and achievements – from the past months!
Wednesday, 1st of January 2014
New Year’s Eve for many people provides a good opportunity to look back on one’s achievements during the last year. For the Project Fireland expedition team New Year’s Eve this year did not only mean the start into a new year, but also marked halftime of their expedition. That definitely calls for a short recap: 2 weeks ago the guys left from Punta Arenas first by jeep to go further south. Then, at the end of the road they continued on foot till the Faro San Isidro. As soon as the wind and water conditions permitted they started their last part of the journey in a little motor boat which brought them to the Peninsula Buckland. The team built their base camp and settled in. Soon they had to rebuild their base camp because water was entering from below. The exploration of the area began and the guys climbed their first summits and propped their climbing skills.
Fast forward, last Saturday was one of these special days. The sun was shining the whole day without any rainy, windy or even cloudy breaks in-between. For the second time the Project Fireland team started bright and early to climb one of the highest peaks of the peninsula. It is a challenging ascent to the top with rock and ice climbing, technical multi-pitch climbing parts (up to 3 on the French rating scale) and difficult ridge climbing routs. The team already had tried the ascent a couple of days before, but had to bail due to changing weather conditions. On Saturday nothing stopped the three to make it to the top.
At first the team thought, they had conquered the Monte Hurt. Nevertheless, after double-checking the GPS data with their contact person at the Uncharted project (read more about the project in the “Uncharted” section) it must have been a different mountain. How come the guys don’t know which mountain they climbed? To date, no exhaustive map of the Monte Buckland peninsular exists. Nobody can state the exact height of the mountains in the area. For the Monte Hurt you can find figures ranging from 800m to 1300m. Therefore, the Project Fireland team can only estimate and afterwards check their GPS data with existing information.
But, what is for certain? The guys reached one of the highest summits on the peninsula!!!
Looking back on their last two weeks in the wilderness, the team is really proud of what they have achieved so far. They had never dreamed of making so many ascents and discovering various unexplored climbing routs. It’s still 10 days to go and they are looking forward to more adventures.
Do you want the good or the bad news first?
Saturday, 28th of December 2013
As you might still remember, the expedition team was planning on a beaver roast feast for Christmas. Well – bad news first – the hunting experience did not work out as planned. The team had to settle for rice with avocado for their Christmas meal. Sounds unspectacular, but it is not that bad either as fresh vegetable are scarce on the peninsula. The team was not able to bring fresh fruits & vegetables due to their high weight and perishable nature, except for a couple of avocados for special occasions.
What does the menu plan on an expedition anyways look like? For breakfast the team packed porridge with nuts and dried fruits, sugar and milk powder (packaged milk would be too heavy to carry). When out exploring the lunch is just a little snack, such as dried-meat and chocolate bars, nuts or crackers. Dinners include a lot of rice, couscous (as it quickly prepared and hence doesn’t consumer a lot of gas) and noodles with different, already-made sauces.
Before I lose you guys to your refrigerators, let’s quickly get to the good news. The team experienced a white Christmas night! Good news stop here, because together with the snow Antarctic winds arrived and fairly cooled the temperature down. Yesterday snow fell to near sea level also reaching the team’s base camp. Today the guys hiked to a nearby lake, but had to return early due to the deep snow. Temperatures are supposed to stabilize a little bit by tomorrow, but you never know in Patagonia. As people say here: You do not ask about the weather. Because you already know it’s possible to get four seasons in one day.
Okay, I know, it was actually bad news and not that bad news…But the team spirit is still up, so let’s stay positive!
Christmas preparations are in full swing on the Monte Buckland peninsula
Tuesday, 24th of December 2013
How do you celebrate Christmas on a sole island close to Antarctica? Well, as everywhere else in the worldtopics of conversation and a good mood are important. Both are easy to fulfill. The team has been busy climbing and hiking during their 9 days on the peninsula. They already conquered 2 summits! Thereby they encountered some challenging ridge climbing routes. In addition weather conditions were changing quickly and the team constantly had to switch between putting on sunscreen and getting their jackets out of their backpacks. Yesterday they tested the consistency of the rocks when climbing some cliffs rating up to 4 on the French scaling system. Winds with roughly 27km/h complicated their advancement, but it was a good training for the team.
Then, not to forget, food is a big topic on Christmas. No Christmas without a big Christmas feast, right? Therefore the project fireland team put up beaver traps yesterday and is hoping for a beaver roast tonight.
If anybody is feeling sorry for the beavers now, don’t! They are a real plague in Patagonia. In 1946 fifty beavers were imported from Canada to promote commercial fur trading, which in the end didn’t work out. The non-native beavers don’t have any predators in Patagonia and report puts the population number nowadays in excess of 100,000. The beavers destroy protected forests and flooding from beaver dams damage roads and other land patches.
Okay, enough about the cute beast, let’s get back to the Christmas preparations. When it is cold and dark outside, a causy, warm home is the perfect location for every Christmas celebration. The weather on the Monte Buckland peninsular is – as we already know – mildly said pretty unstable. Rain, sun and heavy winds take hourly turns. Therefore, the project fireland team had to move their base camp on the 3rd day on the peninsula. Water was entering the tent, because of the wet underground.
Turba (swamp in English) is a common vegetation form in Patagonia. Also most of the Monte Buckland peninsula is covered with turba. Due to this wet moss it is very difficult to walk. You never know how far you will sink into the turba and shoes and trousers constantly get wet. Why am I telling you this? Because the turba caused the water to enter the base camp of the project fireland team. Fortunately everything dried up quickly and no equipment was destroyed. Therefore, the team can enjoy the warmth and dryness of the base camp for their Christmas celebration.
So, what is left to say?
Let’s hope for a beaver hunting success and que aproveche!
Saturday, 14th of December 2013
Two hours before our planned departure we had to postpone the boattrip until Sunday. After a thorough check of the upcoming wind conditions we decided not to rush for the transport which would have brought the boatsman and us into serious troubles, given the fact that the wind was blowing with around 40 knots, which equals around 90km/h. Two clear weather windows are available for us in the next 72 hours, the first today is too short for garantueeing a safe return of the boat, the second one in the night from Sunday to Monday we will try to use in order to get to the Peninsula Buckland.
On the map you can see our planned route on land until Fuerte Bulnes, close to the southernmost point of the American mainland. Then we try to cross maritime triangle of channels of all the surrounding oceans, one of the main reasons for the bad weather conditions in this area. Arriving at the Western point of the Peninsula Buckland, we continue with our zodiac to the Canal Gabriel, the narrow passage between Isla Dawson, famous for a prison during the second world war and still prohibited to enter for anybody except for the military, and our peninsula. We will try to set up the base camp somewhere in this area, depending on the flora and the accesibility of the land.
We are now walking…
Friday, 13th of December 2013
View from Punta Arenas across the Strait of Magellan to Fireland.
After a month of separation, the Project Fireland-Team was reunited again in Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost cities in the world. Two days were spent on organizing and buying last minute equipment and especially food. While the team tried to get used to the Patagonian weather (wind, rain, sun; everything mixed at the same time) and light conditions (it gets dark at around 11PM) they got in contact with the local company NIGSA, an experienced business which set up the “Patagonian Expedition Race” (check it out). They helped us with all kinds of questions and provided us with material. The tension of commencing the expedition in a few hours started to rise and the dinners were celebrated with rich and tasty Hamburguesas.
Talking about food: on our peninsula, there is the possibility of hunting beavers and fishing during the expedition. Our primary goal in the first days will be to set up a base camp in a suitable place, not too far located from both, the coast and the glacier.
Our contact person in Punta Arenas will stay connected with us through a satellite phone, providing weekly news to you guys.
Finally, after more than a year of preparation the time has come…when our boat will take off and the houses at the cost start to disappear, the expedition team will be without any proper civilization contact for a month. Planning might be good in terms of imagining the adventures, but living them is the core of our activities, our plans, our lives.
What is left to say?
Hold on guys, we are now walking into the wild.
Team Project Fireland
Train hard, feel good!
Saturday, 7th of December 2013
In Chile, Philip und Rainhard did a roadtrip in the North of Santiago and into the Cajon de Maipo, a valley located next to the capital of Chile. They spent climbing days in the area, did some rafting on the Rio Maipo and spent nights outdoors gazing at the bushfires in the valley which has been spreading due to the wind and the hot weather. Currently they are staying in Vina del Mar, checking the local surf spots and having two training sessions a day.
In Austria, Leopold is working on his shape in the high peaks of Upper Carinthia. With his team mate Christoph, a very good alpinist and ice-climber, he did a quite physically combined ice-climbing and ski-tour through a 900m icy coloir on the so called “Schareck” (3123m). Check out the pictures in our “Gallery”-section!
Getting high – high in the Andes
Sunday, 1st of December 2013
The highest peak outside Asia is located in Argentinia, close to the Chilean boarder. This beautiful mountain and its steep Polish glacier route were on our “to-do-list”. Fully equipped and loaded with a 25kg backpack we started our ascent to the base camp “Plaza Argentina”, which took us three days. Usually, the mountaineers pay for mules to help them carrying their stuff. We wanted to do it without external help, so we carried, as always, everything by ourselves. When we arrived at the base camp, we met the first people after entering the National Park. A local company built up their tents in order to be prepared for the first tourists. We gave them a hand and experienced the famous South American hospitality. After a day of working and lots of mate, the famous South American tea, they realized that we are not the typical mountain tourists and we continued our acclimatization process by climbing a beautiful mountain next to Aconcagua, Cerro Ibanez (around 5400m). On day 5 since our departure from the valley strong winds and storms came up and made the ascent to the summit to Aconcagua not even really dangerous, but also almost impossible. Due to the lack of time and food (remember: we carried everything by ourselves and planned for 10 days which did not allow us to wait for additional three days) and an unclear situation about the legal aspects of going up through this route that early in the season (the park was officially still closed), we decided to descend and hike back to the civilization, a solely feeling at this time of the year in the national park foreigners normally don´t experience.
All in all, the trip was an amazing experience and a good physical and mental training for the upcoming expedition where it may be all about waiting for the proper conditions, fighting with strong winds (which occurred on the way back and in the base camp) and taking the right decision. This time, Aconcagua didn´t allow us to go up to the top, but it won´t be our last attempt. Check out the pictures at our “Gallery”-page!
Project Fireland – An interview with Kurt Diemberger
Friday, 22nd of November 2013
And here it is – our very personal interview with one of the greatest mountaineers of the 20th century. Enjoy!
We´re on our way!
Monday, 11th of November 2013
After a stressful last week, where we had meetings with newspapers and radio broadcaster, two thirds of the “Project Fireland” team headed to Santiago de Chile to do some ascents in the Andes Mountains. They will be there for nearly one month now, until the “Projet Fireland” team will be reunited on the 10th of December in Punta Arenas. We´re looking forward to some nice stories of unforgettable ascents!
How about some beef?
Tuesday, 5th of November 2013
One month isolated from civilization also means to take food with you in order to survive. Beef jerky is a good source of protein and an ideal snack for exhausting hiking trips. JACK LINK’s liked the “Project Fireland” idea and was happy to contribute lots of beef jerky. Good for us, because we don’t need to hunt beaver all the time.
Jack Link’s is a family owned company based in the USA and one of the fastest growing companies in this business. If you are interested in their wide product range, follow one of the links below:
Working on our shape
Thursday, 24th of October 2013
Last weekend, right after our memorable trip to Kurt Diemberger, we went for another training tour to the top of Austria – the Grossglockner (3798m). In an epic 12-hour trip we started at 2:30am from our hometown, Klagenfurt, drove to the backside of the highest peak of Austria, to Kals in East Tyrol, and made a nice, unwritten route through a snowy/icy coloir and higher above through the West ridge to the summit. It was quite a tough route, physically demanding but also technical and it seems to be we´re on the right way with our shape and motivation!
Visiting a legend – Kurt Diemberger
Saturday, 19th of October 2013
Yesterday we had the honor to spend a full afternoon with one of the greatest mountaineers of the last century, the 81 year-old Austrian Kurt Diemberger, winner of this year´s Piolet d´Or Life Achievment Award, the Oscar of mountaineering!
We had a great time with him in his house in Bologna, speaking about mountaineering and the meaning of life. Therefore we made a video-interview, which will be presented in the upcoming weeks exclusively here on our homepage, so stay tuned to get some great stuff to hear from an outstanding man of the big community of mountaineers.
First training tour
Monday, 14th of October 2013
The last weekend the “Project Fireland” Team spent two days in the mountains – and as you´ll see it from the pictures in our brand new “Gallery” section, it was a really tough test. We started in heavy rain, came in heavy snow and arrived in heavy wind – so the absolute perfect conditions to simulate the rough climate in Fireland, a very important test for our clothes and the worst conditions i ever had on a mountain tour.
As on the second day the sun came out, the snow was, at an altitude of 2500m, somewhere between one and two metres. So we had to change our plan to climb the “Hochalmspitze”, one of the highest peaks in Austria, and a really nice area for some good mountain tours. We decided to search for a snow/ice-wall to make some good technic training. This was as important as the fact, that also the team building was one of the major goals of this tour.
Let´s get started!
Thursday, 10th of October 2013
So let´s get it started and welcome to the official homepage of the “Project Fireland 2013”. We find ourselves in a very intense planning and training period due to the fact, that the expedition will take place in exactly two month from now on! At this weekend we will try to take a route in the area around the highest peak of Austria, the Grossglockner, for technical training purposes. So hopefully the weather won´t be too bad!
In the next weeks this homepage will be our main platform for our communication with you out there. Lot´s of material will follow to come, so check out our site frequently to be up to date about our project!