P. Edronkin

Basic Organisation of a Gea Exploration Group (II).


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Our expeditions usually involve some degree of "engineering." That is, we construct shelters, ovens and supply caches to prepare the field for further expeditions.

Taking on a couple of backpacks a whole prefab shelter is quite a task, not only because it is a heavy thing to do, but because of the risk and some constrains such as time and weather.

Lago Los Rizos, Patagonia.
An example of the kind of cargo that is usually carried in our expeditions. Here,
members of The Gea Org are building a prefab shelter on Lago Los Rizos, Patagonia
This particular structure was erected on 1998, and it is prepared to resist winds of up 
to 150 km/h. It took an expedition of seven people walking four days to deliver 
this shelter to its final location. If you want to see more pictures of this 
construction, please click here.

Some members of the expedition may become tired - especially those that are coming for the first time -, pieces could get lost, etc. and thus, the work of the Guide and the Second involves motivating the rest of the groups as well as to keep all the material intact.

For that, we have adopted a simple march order: the Guide goes at the front. He looks at the path and tries to find the way when there is none (quite often where we go). The Second goes at the last place in the row, and watches after the less experienced members.

If we have with us some explorers with intermediate levels of experience, we put them in charge of the new so that mistakes and accidents are minimised.

There have been times when we had to use weapons for protection, signalling, etc. We always carry them for security reasons, but usage is strictly controlled, and generally only the Guide and the Second take them out of their corresponding pouches.

Guides have responsibilities even after each expedition ends: both the Guide and the Second keep separate logbooks where they write information such as GPS data, daily events, etc.

After each expedition ends, the information is summarised and edited into brief accounts of those expeditions.

Experience shows us that in order to prepare a Guide, we need at least six or seven years of work. It is not an easy task, because less than one in ten people ever make it to that level within Gea's ranks. Five times already our Guides have acted as expert witnesses in various court cases related in some way or another to mountains.

Twice have some of our expeditions been reported as missing in blizzards, to reappear again some days later.

Some Guides and Explorers even participated in research expeditions. It is a requisite to hold a Degree in order to become one.

All in all, we want to continue our exploration plans in Patagonia. The process is slow, not without dangers, and requires sensible experience and care. We have evolved a system that guarantees us that as many people come back as they originally departed.

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