P. Edronkin

Survival tales: blizzard in the Patagonian Andes (I).

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In January 1988 I was in charge of a group of explorers trying to map Mount Perito Moreno, in Río Negro Province, Argentina.

After erecting our base camp at 1.600 metres above the sea level, the weather suddenly changed, and we were forced to stay inside our tents for a couple of days. Then, the gale-force wind became a blizzard that covered one of our tents and destroyed the other.

So, in the middle of the night we began digging in order to make a survival shelter which was finished during the morning, while the blizzard continued. When we attempted to get some fresh clothes inside our shelter in order to protect us al little bit more, we found them frozen and as hard as cardboard.

After inaugurating our new shelter and staying there for a whole day except for short periods in which we used to run in circles in order not to freeze and to take off some snow from our precarious roof, we decided to climb down the mountain as soon as the skies cleared a little.

At noon, the blizzard slowed down somewhat; we packed our essential gear and left the rest at the shelter, and began our way down the mountain.

However, snow had erased all footprints and signs, our compass was unusable due to magnetic disturbances caused by the storm, and clouds gave us a visibility of about 30 metres. So we were forced to descend in a zig-zag pattern around the area where we believed that our trail upwards had been.

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