P. Edronkin

Basic Organisation of a Gea Exploration Group (I).


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The Gea regularly sends exploration groups, mainly to Patagonia, in South America. We have been doing this for decades, mapping the area, climbing unknown and unnamed peaks, exploring valleys and putting names to things.

Based on our experience, we have evolved a hierarchical system by which our groups are organised and managed during those trips.

It is to perhaps in order to say that climbing in isolated regions such as Patagonia demands some additional skills as what you would need in well-known areas, as well as additional discipline because the expedition normally evolves thorough a somewhat more dangerous environment.

Landslide at Jujuy, Northern Argentina
Clearing the road after a landslide in Jujuy, Northern Argentina.
Photo taken by Yolanda Braun, 1968.

Our groups usually have between four and eight members. A minimum of three is mandatory because in the event of an accident, there are increased chances that at least one will reach help.

Notice here that I mean 'reach' and that is quite literally, because radio communications are usually impossible once you enter the deep valleys of the Andes. There are very few inhabitants, and in areas such as the Blanco Valley, the nearest human being is about 30 kilometres away.

Each group carries a Guide, who is in charge of the expedition, and what we know as 'the second one.'

In military terms, this person would be the First Officer, and his duties include helping the Guide with his job, as well as managing some particular things.

Administrative duties are well divided among the Guide and the Second. For example, finances are managed by the Second, and revised by the Guide. The second is also responsible for general camping duties such as preparing food, getting wood for cooking, waking up the rest of the group each morning, etc.

The Guide concentrates all his efforts and time into making sure that the objectives of the expedition are achieved. Thus, he is always busy reading maps, calculating distances, organising activities for each day, controlling the state of the equipment, etc.

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