Cape Horn ‘The Big One’
Below 40º there is no law, below 50º there is no god – nautical saying regarding Tierra Del Fuego.
Follow us: LIVE MAP HERE
In just under two weeks I will embark on what currently feels like the most committing and intimidating adventure of my career so far. Paddling alongside my dear friend Seumas Nairn, we hope to kayak together a route from Punta Arenas to Cape Horn, terminating at Puerto Williams.
This will be our third major expedition through the Patagonian fjords, adding 880km to 1300km which we have previously explored here together over two pervious trips. For this, we expect should take 33 days and we have allowed ourselves 40 to achieve it, hopefully giving sufficient time to await suitable weather. We have two plans. Plan A – return safe and alive, second plan A – experience the wild coast of Cape Horn.
The Route will start just north of Cabo San Isidro, close to Punta Arenas. This was the finish point of our previous journey. From here we will then head south to Cabo Froward, across the Strait of Magellan into Seno Keats. Continuing between Monte Saramiento and the Darwin Ranges, we will portage a 5km pass. Beyond this we reach the Beagle Channel, headed east. To head south we then aim into the Cape islands and go for the Horn.
This journey is characterised with committing open crossings, of which there are potentially 5. These are our ‘crux’ points, and may take several days wait to achieve. These are – The Strait of Magellan – 10km. Pt.Rice-Isla Grevy 16km, Cape Horn and the Bay of Nassau 23km.
It is often described in Patagonia that the wind is ‘digital’, and can appear to gale force from zero in minutes without warning. To embark on each of these open crossings requires serious consideration, time and preparation. For this we expect our journey to take 33 days by its longest route and have allowed ourselves 40. If it is unsafe to cross, we shall not.
The majority of this journey has been self funded, with exception to some equipment sponsorship built through long lasting relationships with a variety of gear providers.
From this we will are proudly supported by: Kokatat – for drysuits and PFDs. Rab equipment: thermal layering, waterproof & down jackets & sleeping bags. Hilleberg the tentmaker – Allak Tent. Werner Paddles – Ikelos & Kalliste paddles.
Also thanks to Volkanica Outdoors, who helped organise logistics in ordering dry food. And Nite Watches
Finally without Kayak En Patagonia we would never have been able to make this happen. Even with six months work producing all the paperwork and logistics to present to the naval armada, it would not be without the help from Cris and Les that we would have made this possible.
Other support will also be given by my father, who is our remote comms weatherman which we will be using the following code:
Ultimately this is a personal ambition, both for I and for Seumas. To me, Cape Horn represents the culmination of almost a decade guiding and exploring in Patagonia. To paddle in that region is perhaps something I see most of all as a symbol of mastery in Patagonia. This was inspired by the man who first trusted hiring me in this wild and windy place, German Doggenweiler of Tutravesia. He himself had completed a journey from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn solo, in a blacked out kayak to avoid the navy for whom he had not pertained permits. Arriving young, eager and perhaps a little naive, those tales from German inspired a fire in me. I might then have been relatively inexperienced, certainly intimidated and a little overwhelmed by wilderness and climate of Patagonian, but I knew that one day, with time anything was possible here.
Since that first year, i’ve returned for 5 seasons, working for two companies, Tutravesia and now Kayak En Patagonia. This has been predominantly guiding expedition style trips on the Rio Serrano, a 70km river. All combined, I now have lived and paddled over an entire continuous year on that winding flow from Torres Del Paine to the sea. I know it better than any place I know on earth from it’s intricate channels to the lakes hidden above and beyond it. Returning the same route allowed the chance to habituate to the weather, learn its patterns and how to cope when it comes in strong, a skill I hope to continue to develop over a lifetime. With Seumas, we have achieved two prior grand expeditions in the fjords, learning and honing our expedition skills while exploring remote and committing passages. Without Seumas, I would not now consider going to Cape Horn with any other. Our previous two trips can be read here:
Puerto Eden – Puerto Natales 2015
Puerto Natales – Punta Arenas 2016
It is all this paddling here combined that gives me the confidence that I am ready to undertake this journey, and feel in good mindset to do so. Of course I hope to achieve our route, but will be equally satisfied with having tried. I feel there is no pressure, no record to beat, nor ego needing stoked, it is just an ambition to pursue a dream. Whether that happens, is down to the weather, and if we can’t it’ll still be one hell of an adventure on the way. That said, with 3 days before we start, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty nervous. Wish us luck.
If you would like to follow our journey: we have a wonderful interactive map care of ZeroSixZero: