Challenges and Rewards of Photography | Fitz Roy

Photography, just like any other occupation, has it’s challenges. With these challenges, we accept them, push through them, learn from them, and ultimately (hopefully) are rewarded by them. Some challenges are large and some small, but it’s extremely important to observe that challenge and take it to the finish line, no matter how hard it is. It’s what molds us as a person and photographer.

Last January I had the rare opportunity to travel across the country of Argentina, for an entire month. It was epic. It didn’t come without it’s challenges, though. The majority of my trip was work related but I made sure to plan a week of personal adventure to kick off the trip. What did I plan? Of course I decided to challenge myself to hike to the base of the Fitz Roy Range in Southern Argentina to shoot photography for a few days. Oh the challenges that I faced!

I’ve been super fortunate traveling as much as I have these past 7 years (thank you Tailwaters). I have learned an enormous amount on how to travel light, efficient, safe and prepared. Send me somewhere, anywhere, and I’ll take the challenge. This trip to Fitz Roy however, was a challenge in many ways. This trip was tough, much tougher than I thought it would be.

The realization that I might be in a serious bind was when I was shopping for food at a small market in El Chalten. A blanket of fear came over me and I thought, “what the hell am I doing?” I felt completely unprepared. Even after weeks and weeks of research, I stood in this market struggling to figure out how I would fit enough food in my pack (a pack that was already overflowing) so that I could survive for a few days. A constant whistle from the howling wind outside was a constant reminder that I may have made a mistake in choosing the proper tent. Many “what if” thoughts were going through my head. I was panicing. I was intimidated.

I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and gathered my thoughts. I asked a few locals (american climbers that live there temporarily) where I could find some other food options (something that was a little more packable). There was another market down the road that carried food in bulk that could be bought by weight. I ended up with a bag of couscous, chicken bouillon cubes, some trail mix, oatmeal, and some powdered coffee. Not a lot of food, but it was all I could fit for the 4 day journey! I’ll tell you something, that couscous and chicken bouillon was 5 star dining at the end of a long day, especially with a cold gusting wind blowing across your face.

So, looking back my episode in the market was a bit of panic, but all things started coming together as originally planned. Thanks to research, I knew that the weather had the potential to be really shitty. Guess what? The weather was really shitty!

I think I heard one of the climbers back at the market mention that Cerro Torre (famous for climbing), had been cloaked in clouds for a consecutive 50 days. Awesome. So there I sat the first night wondering if I would have the opportunity to accomplish what I came for, to at least see Fitz Roy. Those first three days ended up being great exploratory scouting days as the peaks were surrounded by clouds, only ever so often revealing themselves for a few seconds.

It all came down to my final morning. The night before I hiked out to the spot I knew I would be shooting to get a feel for the composition. I snapped a few test shots and knew that I was good to go. 5am rolled around quick. As I made my way to the location (still dark), all I could do was hope that the clouds weren’t there. As sunrise approached, the ambient pre dawn light grew brighter and I knew I was in for a great sunrise photo shoot of Fitz Roy. The image speaks for itself.