December 14, 2010

Windy Defeat

Wind is a very interesting phenomena and we have been experiencing it in spades.  Yesterday we planned a little excursion up to El Chalten to look at another Andean gem--the Fitz Roy massif.  A short 200+ km putt up, overnight in a nice hostel, and then back to El Calafate today.

The wind howled most of Sunday night, but eased up by dawn.  We were on the road a little after eight and headed east out of town with a good tailwind.  All hell broke loose when we made the left turn north on to Ruta 40.  We now had a direct, gusty crosswind of at least40-50 mph (60+ was forecast). We hugged the center line of the road in order to have an empty lane to use when the strong gusts hit us.  After about 5 km, Ross pulled over in the wind shadow of a small hill to consult with the rest of us; it was unanimous--we turn around and head back to El Calafate.  A big 4WD tour vehicle pulled up next to us and offered to drive in the left lane and protect us from the wind, but we declined the offer, got ourselves turned around and headed for the barn. 

Once back at the hostel we regrouped and decided to take the bus which left at 1300.  We eventually boarded a very nice motor coach and left right on time.  All went well until we got to the police check point on the edge of town.  The road to El Chalten was closed due to the high winds!!  Back to the station, fares refunded, rooms procured at the hostel and El Chalten abandoned for this trip.

What’s next?  No gas in town now due to the lack of tankers that were also stopped by the road closures.  We used 70 km worth of gas on our outing yesterday; there might be gas 160 km down the road, or we may have to go all the way to Rio Gallegos……  If we drive about 50 mph, we think we can stretch the fuel and make it all the way.  We may have a quartering tailwind which will help--stay tuned!!

PS  I'm working on a Top Ten List of Things You Always Wanted to Know About Wind and Motorcycles--I already have 15 things :-)


  1. Hola,

    Good to see you're still on the move..even with a crosswind.

    Just thought I'd check in on you folks. We had dinner together in Juliaca, Peru a while back...stayed in same hotel.

    I'm currently chilling out in Banos, Ecuador till Christmas and then on to Colombia.

    Feliz Navida. Doug Pyper

  2. Jean,
    You don't have to tell me about hellish winds. The 6th I rode to Ushuaia and the winds on the gravel sectionsouth of the straits to San Sebastian were reported at 110 km. I literally though I might die. I later found out they closed the ferry crossing sometime after I did the crossing.
    I saw your crew north of Rio Gallegos on my way out. Hope the winds died down for you. My most hellish winds were the next day as I rode from Pto. San Julian to Trelew.
    Keep safe.

  3. Well we had blizzard-like conditions over the weekend. That was pretty crazy. This week, below zero temps, although yesterday it warmed up to 10 degrees. Hope all is well with y'all. What do you use for wind burn? Just curious.

  4. Hi Steve & RuthAnn,
    Found you through the Hope magazine that arrived this afternoon. Great to see you're still adventuring!! We'll be following you along. All well here (Tucson & Maine).

  5. Hey JC and Carleen,
    Great to hear from you--we haven't seen the article yet. Drop us a line at so we can get your e-mail address and stay in touch.