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Matt Van Biene: Chalten Portraits (Chapter 2)

Posted on: April 3, 2015


A few weeks ago, we published Matt Van Biene's black-and-white portraits of climbers in El Chalten, Argentine Patagonia. This week we bring you chapter 2 of Biene's project—this time with continuous scrolling—with his remaining images.

—Chris Van Leuven

Quinn Brett: Quinn can barely sit still long enough to get a portrait. Before this photograph was taken, she was dancing in the kitchen and immediately afterward doing handstands in front of her little casita. I'm pretty sure I had to bump up the shutter speed just to get a sharp image. It's no wonder that she takes this enthusiasm to her job as a climbing ranger in Estes Park, setting speed climbing records in Yosemite, and cruising up granite spires in Patagonia.

Max Barlerin: Max is the yin to Quinn's yang. They climbed in Chalten as a couple and for all of Quinn's off-the-wall enthusiasm, Max maintains an even Zen state, a good combination for high stress climbing. I personally had the pleasure of climbing alongside him on Aguja St. Exupery, playing a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity in town, and really enjoyed getting to know Max during his first year down south.

Wally Fox: I've known Wally for a few years around Smith Rock and Trout Creek. A well-liked central-Oregon local, Wally is known for his friendship and for his fierce determination on the stone. His nursing gig affords him the free time to keep his rock skills honed, and he eagerly showed up for his first season in Patagonia. It was great to see Wally and even though I think he was tempered by the scale of peaks at Chalten, I look forward to seeing him back down south in the future.

Jonathan Schrock: A former white-collar worker turned mountain guide, Schrock left the corporate world for the mountains and never looked back. For the past few years he has swung through Chalten after guiding Aconcagua, only to be stymied by bad weather and partner woes. This year, however, with a buffer of time and a solid partner lined up, Jonathan enjoyed multiple summits, including the treasured Fitz Roy.

Aaron Webb: Aaron's been to Patagonia twice but this was his first time to El Chalten. He got lucky with weather and climbed two routes on Guillamet before the storms rolled in and he ran out of time.

Tad McCrea: Tad, a gregarious and friendly guy, is a man you want on your team. A former NCAA national champion rower turned mountain guide, Tad brings his beastly size and psyche to any climbing mission. With a penchant for keeping it casual, he often enjoys a bivy for the sheer pleasure of an alpine sunrise, and even volunteers to bring instruments to basecamp for a jam session in the shadow of Cerro Torre.

Julian Poush: A recent college grad who does odd jobs like census work between crushing hard cracks and freeing big walls, Julian showed up for his second season in Chalten this year with big goals. I've known him for five years now, and, for a guy who professed to be terrified of ice climbing and swore to never put on alpine boots, it warms my heart to see Julian fall in love with the complexities of climbing in this particular range.

Andy Anderson: I first met Andy, a Salt Lake City writer, after returning to El Chalten from a few days climbing in the mountains. He and a partner had just returned as well, having packed up and hiked to the range within a few hours of arriving. We became quick friends over post-send beers and ice cream. Andy was lucky to take advantage of a few weather windows to make ascents of Innominata on Aguja Rafael Juarez and Fitz Roy.

Rob Duncan: As if summiting Fitz Roy isn't enough for a lifetime achievement, Rob's main focus outside of climbing is studying neuroscience as a graduate student in Salt Lake City. I enjoyed getting to know Rob this season. He's a man of good character with a constant smile. Rob and his climbing partner Andy swung into town and took full advantage of brief but frequent weather windows to enjoy some rare summits in Patagonia.

Forrest Kaye: Another member of the large contingent of central Oregon climbers in Chalten this season, Forrest quickly adapted to climbing in the Patagonian range. After dispatching some smaller objectives, he aimed his sights at the long Afanassieff route on Fitz Roy. With partner Jonathan Schrock, he climbed the route in three days to the summit. After a successful climbing season, Forrest cast off for further exploration of the Patagonian wilds.

Clayton Laramie: I met Clayton the day before he left town for Colorado. His trip was cut short when a softball-sized rock plummeted down the North Pillar of Fitz Roy, hitting Clayton on his left hand. In this photo he nurses a broken hand, a stark reminder of the damage this range can dish out. Clayton was rightfully bummed about his situation, but felt fortunate that the injury was no worse. He left inspired by the enchanting peaks he had only tasted.

Adam Ferro: Adam has quietly returned to the peaks around El Chalten for a number of years. Before hanging out down south we were friends from the road, where I witnessed his "cracksmanship" first hand in places like Indian Creek. He's taken these skills up numerous first ascents in the range and continues to be a humble and kind crusher among us.

Travis Heidepriem: Travis took his first road trip to Yosemite when he was 16, climbed the Salathe Wall when he was 17, and has quietly crushed ever since. A self-professed rock climber, Travis had to buy a new wardrobe to be ready for Patagonia's alpine environment. Additionally, Travis' partners were set on climbing up the icy sides of the mountains. So 22-year-old Travis, with a few successful rock summits and one ice climbing trip to Bozeman, climbed the Ragni route on Cerro Torre.

Rolando Garibotti: Rolo, is legendary when it comes to climbing in Chalten. His knowledge of the range is encyclopedic. He also authored a beautiful guidebook that has inspired many climbers since its release in 2013. Rolo always welcomes friends, old and new, to visit his house for climbing beta, mate, and good conversation. He was initially camera shy, but I pulled him aside during an empanada party where he joked with me and presented an honest smile.

Alex Honnold: Alex is no stranger to demanding climbing. I love seeing rock climbers like Alex take their amazing skills to remote peaks and see what they accomplish. After doing climbs like the full Fitz Roy Traverse and a narrowly missed Torre Traverse in a day, it's not surprising that Alex has raised the bar for Patagonian climbing, despite having only climbed here for two seasons. While photographing him, he had three faces for me: happy, serious, and not-so-serious. I like the not-so-serious side.

[To see more of Van Biene's work, check out his website or Facebook page, or follow him on Instagram.]

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