by Mike McNamee Published 01/02/2016
FitzRoy with cloud
Patagonia - John Rowell
Where did you go and when?
We went to two National Parks in Patagonia. One, Los Glaciares in the Argentinian part of Patagonia and Torres del Paine which lies 550km further south in Chile.
Why did you go and who with?
It is a long story but when we moved to Snowdonia I knew that my travelling days were over but the trade-off was that I could immerse myself in the landscape I have loved since childhood. We opened a gallery and because it is housed in an annex of the Moel Siabod Cafe in Capel Curig, I get to meet a lot of the mountain leaders/instructors etc. One of the instructors, Rob Johnson, was running a trip and at the last minute he had a cancellation. Patagonia was the one place left on my 'bucket list' and Marion argued that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't take the opportunity.
How did you get there?
From Heathrow to San Paulo in Brazil. From there to Buenos Aries in Argentina and on to El Calafate which is close to the National Parks.
How long did that take?
What does the travel part cost?
You can normally get a ticket for £800 but I had to pay a premium for booking at the last minute.
What kit did you take?
This was a self-supporting trip, ie 12 to 23km per day trekking carrying all your equipment. By necessity I left all my Canon full-frame camera gear at home and opted for a micro four-thirds system with only one lens attached. I was aware this was a huge gamblebut had confidence in the system having used it in the mountains of Snowdonia for the previous six months. I was not disappointed, it provided Raw files of stunning quality and worked flawlessly throughout the trip. I must place on record the support given by Sarah Jones of Cambrian Photography and Aidan Mayne from Olympus who offered to loan other equipment but space and weight were the defining factors.
Cameras - Olympus OMD EM5 Mk11
Lenses - 14-150mm zoom
Tripod - Sirui travel tripod
Filters - None
Image storage - 1 x 32GB, 4x 16GB cards
Laptop - No
Kit bag - Osprey Rucksack
Carry-on luggage - None
Special clothing - Normal outdoor layering system
Breaking storm Paine Grande
How long did you go for?
What is the weather in the area like?
According to the Köppen climate classification, the park lies in the 'temperate climate of cold rain without a dry season.' The meteorological conditions of the park are variable due to the complex orography.
The zone is characterised by cool summers, with temperatures lower than 16°C (61°F) during the warmest month (January). Winter is relatively cold, with an average high temperature in July of 5°C (41°F), and an average low of -3°C (27°F).
The rainiest months are March and April, with a monthly average rainfall of 80mm. This represents double the July-October (winter) rainfall which are the drier months. What was your weather like?
We went at the end of October till the middle of November which was just leading into spring. We had only four hours of rain on the whole trip and only briefly experienced the notorious winds which can hamper the world's best rock climbers as they wait to attempt the infamous spires.
How many shots did you make?
I took 2,500 which included a number of stitched panoramas, which I thought suited the mountains and lakes that we encountered.
In terms of scale, how big is the landscape you were working in.
The best way to compare is the area the parks cover and the height of the mountains. They are as follows:
Torres del Paine NP covers 935 square miles, max height 2,500m
Los Glaciares NP covers 2,807 square miles, max height 3,405m
Snowdonia NP covers 827 square miles, max height 1,085m
Lake District NP covers 885 square miles, max height 978m
Yosemite NP covers 1,168 square miles, max height 3,997m
Mt FitzRoy is 123 miles almost due north of Torres del Paine as the condor flies but it is almost 350 miles by road. By way of example, the Torres del Paine complex is similar in size to the Coullin of Skye.
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