By Robbie Broughton
“Montanus is an attitude, an intimate journey…the call of the wild buck… Montanus is the smell of moss on your gloves, the dry red mud on your bike, the frost on your sleeping bag. Montanus is life outside the comfort zone, an inspiration for those who want to experience nature. It’s about enjoying the slow ride, perceiving the smells and taking in the colours.”
Two Italian friends, Giorgio Frattale and Francesco D’Alessio, came up with the idea of ‘Montanus’ back in 2013. Hailing from the Arbruzzo region, the home of the Gran Sasso d’Italia mountain range, the wilderness and bike packing enthusiasts have just released a stunning film of their travels through the remote area of southern Patagonia in Argentina.
The film follows Montanus on what they describe as a ‘bike and packcraft exploration’ of this remote area between the Austral Andes and the huge glacial lakes. It’s here that a traditional Argentine culture of the gauchos (South American cowboys) still survives.
Carrying rucksacks, inflatable canoes and camping equipment on their mountain bikes, the intrepid explorers pedaled and pushed their loads across gravel tracks, wide open plains, up and down mountains and through freezing rivers.
They describe this part of the world as one of the few places left that still conveys the feeling of being on the edge of the earth. There’s the “endless and arid steppe, the wonderful jagged peaks of the Andes, the huge fresh water basins with their incredible colours, the awesome glaciers that fall into the deep depressions of the Cordillera.” Add to that extreme and changing weather conditions, not to mention the incessant and exhausting wind and it makes for quite an adventure.
This is a lonely stretch of the South American continent which finds itself at the mercy of a turbulent intersection of two oceans. Patagonia gets its name from “Patagon” the name that Ferdinand Magellan gave the natives of that region some five hundred years ago. He’d read about the “Gran Patagon” a giant wild creature, in chivalric novel of the time.
And it is still inhabited by wild creatures: guanacos, pumas, Andean condors, flamingoes and the crested caracara share it with the Argentine gauchos, proud guardians of an ancient rural culture. It was this call of the wild lands that fuelled the Montana’s desire to explore this remote and beautiful corner of the planet.
It’s a fantastic film, beautifully shot, that evokes the spirit of travel and discovery, shows off the landscape in all its glory and celebrates the hardy life of the Gaucho. Worth ten minutes of your time!