Thursday, March 31, 2011

Patagonia Days 2-3: Refugio Grey

The next morning we took an early bus to Torres Del Paine park. After lunch at Paine Grande lodge, we spent 4 hours hiking up to Refugio Grey. The picture on the left is of Glacier Grey and Lake Grey. Seeing Glacier Grey is one of the 3 highlights of the W trail (the other two being the French Valley and the Torres Del Paine). We arrived at Refugio Grey that evening and had the first of many fantastic Refugio dinners with ample amounts of Austral beer and Gato wine-in-a-box. Later that night, our trip mate arrived with new shoes and we had a surprise birthday party for another trip mate in the Refugio. We even baked a cake using the ingredients available in the kitchen and had all the guests in the Refugio sign a card. One of the guests was a German girl who is doing her PhD on 'High Mountain Geography' with a specialization on 'Glaciers'. So, she is studying Glacier Grey by making weekly trips to the glacier and measuring key characteristics of the glacier (rate of melting, etc.) We were almost able to arrange a hike on the glacier through her but alas couldn't get a permit. Is there any better way to celebrate a birthday then in the shadow of Glacier Grey?

The next day, we did a day hike near Grey. Our goal was to get to Camp Pass, 4-5 hours north of Refugio Grey. Camp Pass offers a stunning view of the glacier. Unfortunately, we left late and could not make it all the way. I separated from the group to try to push further to Camp Pass, but I realized that it was not going to be doable in one day. Still, hiking on the side of a cliff over-looking the glacier was a tremendous experience. On the way back to the Refugio, I spent a good 20 minutes sitting on a boulder and watching the glacier with a French family (mother, father, and son) who were camping at Refugio Grey. It was windy and cold, but it was just one of many serene moments on the W trail where I could silently enjoy nature's splendor. Afterward, I spent some time at the lake's edge where glacier pieces collect. Glaciers look like light, airy objects; but trying to push one with my legs, I realized they are not. I guess that's why they say 'tip of the iceberg'.

Refugio Grey was also the first place we unveiled our Wharton banner. Over the course of the week, we had the banner signed by fellow hikers, Refugio staff, and finally ourselves. Our goal is to pass this banner on to the next group who hikes the W trail in Torres Del Paine.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Patagonia Day 1: Endless Travel

My Patagonia adventure began promptly at 11am on March 4th. I finished my Business & Public Policy final at 11am and left for the airport with my trip mates. We raced to Newark airport from Philadelphia, parked in long term parking, and checked in for the flight. We barely were able to check in since we were just under the 1 hour check in time (fortunately, exceptions were made for us).

From there, things were fairly smooth for 4 out of the 6 of us. We traveled from Newark to Lima to Santiago to Punta Arenas. Then we took a bus 3 hours north to Puerto Natales. Unfortunately, 2 of our trip mates were on a slightly different flight path and got bumped off their flight from Miami to Santiago. Thus, they did not make it to Punta Arenas at the same time as us. They did eventually make it, but one arrived in Puerto Natales with duct tape on her shoes - wasn't going to work for a 70km hike. More on that later.

All told, we traveled over 30 hours to get to Puerto Natales, where we spent the night before leaving for Torres Del Paine the next day. The folks in the picture are a group of Swedes waiting at the Punta Arenas airport for the bus to Puerto Natales. They eventually became friends (and friendly rivals) on the W trail.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wharton 54

I'm taking a brief aside from my Patagonia blogs to say a quick word about Wharton 54, Wharton's annual 70s party and generally acknowledged party-of-the-year. Like Patagonia, Wharton 54 lived up to its reputation. Don't ask me for details, you won't get any. Let's just say I'll be recovering for a while.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I used to think that nothing would eclipse my Macchu Picchu trip in 2004 in terms of stunning scenery, but Patagonia might have done it. From March 4 - March 12, I traveled to Patagonia with 5 other first year classmates to hike the W trail (of the Paine circuit) in Torres del Paine, Chile. Pictured to your left is the famous Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine.

Patagonia is a large region in Southern Chile and Argentina, comprised of diverse landscape that includes deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, and the like. There was a Wharton Leadership Venture to Tierra del Fuego (in Southern Patagonia) that I was interested in doing; however, I and the rest of my travel companions were wait-listed on this trip. Given the difficulty of getting off the wait-list, we decided to plan our own trip to Patagonia - just a different part of it. Torres del Paine is the most famous part of Patagonia and highly doable without a guide; so we decided to go there.

When I think of Patagonia, I think of windy, stark, and diverse landscape. It's not uncommon to be standing on a ledge in 50 mph winds, seeing clouds and rain off in one direction and blue sky and sun light in another, while looking up at a mountain and down at a lake with floating pieces of glaciers. And, because we're so far south, the sun doesn't set until 9pm. My travel companions felt the same - hiking in Patagonia, it's easy to feel like you're on another planet. Does Patagonia live up to the hype? Yes - take it from a man who has traveled to 30 countries - it does so with ease.

Over the next several blog entries I'll describe details of our adventure as we spent 2 days getting to Torres Del Paine, 5 days hiking the W trail, and 2 days getting back to the US. Looking back at my pictures, I shudder at the raw beauty of Patagonia.

In Praise of Angry Birds

It's official. I'm addicted to Angry Birds. What's Angry Birds, you ask? Only the best game on mobile phones. You launch a variety of birds into structures to kill evil, green pigs that have stolen your eggs. I've beaten the regular game and gotten 3 stars on all the levels. Now I'm close to beating Angry Birds: Seasons. Seasons is a great enhancement on the regular game. The levels are harder and require more strategy. The scenery and music are also better with Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and St. Patrick's themes. Angry Birds is the perfect mobile app game - it's easy to play and you can play in easy 5 minute increments. And, who doesn't enjoy the thrill of hitting a structure just right and watching the whole thing come tumbling down on fat green pigs? I always knew I was a military genius - Angry Birds just proves it even more.

I love this game.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Q4 Begins (where did Q3 go)?

I certainly won't miss Q3, which was the busiest quarter I've had at Wharton. I hit the recruiting circuit hard, going through roughly 16 first round interviews and 6 2nd round interviews (all for health care companies). During one particularly rough week, I had interviews in NYC, San Jose, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. Unfortunately, academics (probably) suffered as a result of the recruiting onslaught. Fortunately though, I have a job that I think I'm going to enjoy for the summer.

Q4 has begun and I think it will be much better than Q3. However, academics will probably take the front seat again unless it is displaced by something. My courses for this quarter are:

Global Strategic Management
Operations & Information Management: Supply and Demand
Health Care Entrepreneurship (we are in the semi-finals of the competition)
Health Care Field Application Project (we are consulting for NuPathe)

Not a light load by any means. But, besides academics, Q4 will be about fun. Spring is here and Philly is limping back to life. It's hard to believe that the 1st year is almost over, so it's time to get back on the social scene and party it's pre-term!
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