If you are a fan of mountains and colours then i hope you will enjoy this post. There are many photos…
Since watching the movie Alive I’ve been fascinated by the Anides. Not that I want to crash and eat my friends, but the vastness of them. I remember where they finally manage to ascend to the summit only to see more mountains stretching out into the horizon in every direction. I’ve finally been able to experience some of that for myself.
The bus from Los Antiguas arrived on El Chaltén at 6am. I’ve never slept well on coaches and it wasn’t helped when we hit the gravel road. I didn’t have a hostel booking so luckily we stopped outside of a 24 hour restaurant attached to a hostel and went inside out of the freezing rain. The place I’d been told about was closed. At 9am we went searching for another hostel and found Hostel Del Largo. The rooms were due to be ready at 2pm. So I endured one of the longest waits of my life on the wettest day of my life. At 2:15 I asked if we could get into the rooms and I was told they had been ready for ages. I nearly hit the man. But a sleep and another great steak and I was ready for some hiking.
Roberto and Ricardo had decided to take on the Heumel Circuit, a challenging 4 day hike which I had mentioned to them the day before. They suggested that I do a three day hike covering part of what they had intended to cover, Cerré Torró and Fitz Roy.
Cerró Torre – Day 1
I packed my bag for hiking, hired some hiking poles to practice ahead of the O Circuit, told Alexa where I was going in case I died and found myself at the beginning of a very busy trail. From my understanding it was largely flat, which it was, but it didn’t stop the inlines at the beginning hitting me hard as an inexperienced backpacker. The day was sunny but there was still a lot of cloud cover over the mountains but this dissipated as the day went on.
It was 8km to the campsite, just at the bottom if Laguna Torre. I arrived at by 12:30, so it took me 3 hours with a little rest and a sandwich stop, and promptly put up my tent which had stunning views.
I went to investigate the lake and when I first arrived Cerró Torre was under cloud cover.
I decided to trek up to the viewing point around the side of the lake to get a better view of the glacier. This was much more uphill and I was aching and tired from carrying my back but determined to make it to the top as I scrambled and slid over rocks. When I got there I realised the Sky was clearing and was treated to a great view of the glacier.
I returned to the beach and a guided tour arrived so I seated myself close by to listen in and pretended to read my Kindle. I found out the water was drinkable, which was good as I hadn’t seen another water source close by, and he said the sun would clear the clouds. Which it did.
I left my Kindle on the beach returned to camp. Realised I’d left my Kindle. Ran back to the beach and frantically looked. A man had found it and asked me if it was what I was looking for and I returned to the camp. Had dinner, realised I’d forgotten my toothbrush and went to bed. Then the cold came. It was so cold I couldn’t sleep, or at least I kept waking as i managed to sleep through the sunrise until 8am when I awoke and ran to the lake again and snapped these.
Everyone was already up and at the beach but it was still freezing so I returned for a hazy breakfast and packed up. I got talking to a few of the other campers and Lindsay, Salma and Loren were all going the same way. We packed up and then the sky really cleared so I saw Cerró Torre in all it’s glory.
Fitz Roy – Day 2
The trek to Fitz Roy involved retracing our steps for several kilometres and then taking an a joining path which met with the Fitz Roy trail, that leads to El Chaiten. Again it was supposed to be largely flat with a short hill, it wasn’t a short hill, there was a long uphill march. After we had walked across the base of the mountain we were treated to some lakes and started to see sights of Fitz Roy.
I had thought it was going to be an easy day and having left much later than I would have liked I felt under pressure to get to the camp sight so I could get a closer look at Fitz Roy. I knew the weather was due to change the next day so you really have to take advantage of opportunities when you can. I pushed through and made it to the second campsite. Put up the tent and had a little rest.
Looking at the map the view point was only 1.7k away but the guide said it was an hours walk. What followed is one of the toughest hours of my life and I faced nearly a literal vertical climb up the mountain. Yes there were steps on the trail but they were covered with streams at times, slippery rocks and the worst, other rude hikers. We met an eagle on the way up.
When I reached the top the path turned to loose stones and gravel and I got to touch my first snow. The views were amazing and you could see for miles in all directions.
There is a lake at the top and a pathway that you can follow for a little way for a view of a blue lagoon.
The cold soon kicked in and we decided to head down to camp. I’m not sure this was any easier than going up and my knees were hurting by the end. I had dinner and retreated for another cold night. I skipped the sunrise trek back up as I didn’t want to damage my legs any further.
Return to El Chaltén – day 3
Instead of the sunrise walk Lindsay and I did a short 4km walk to see a hanging glacier.
On the way the wind picked up and started blowing really hard. We tracked back to camp and packed up with my tent nearly blowing away in the process. When walking back to town my backpack acted as a sail and I was blown about but soon we reached the other side of th foot hills and the wind died down. We saw the valley where El Chaltén sits on the way back.
I checked into my new hostel, retrieved my bags from the other. Showered, changed and treated myself to a delicious burger at B&B. Not sure the photos do it justice.
The next day I sorted out my gear and was largely a rest day but I couldn’t resist going on a short hike. This was the first time I’d been on the town on a clear day and you can see why people like it here.
I walked up to the Cóndor viewpoint to see the town from above and the lakes in the distance.
On the way back down this little guy ran right past me.
I agreed to go on a sunrise hike to Laguna Capri with Salma and Rich who i met in the hostel the previous night. We set off at 5am, to find out a little later this was an hour early. Standing around int he cold, it was supposed to be -4 we tried to keep warm whist being mesmerised by the starts and slowly watched the colours of the sky change. As the sun hit Fitz Roy we were rewarded as it turned a pinky red.
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado
I arrived back around 9am and decided to go on another trek but not before I spent 3 hours waiting for my apps to update after I accidentally hit update all-never so this if you don’t have decent WIFI.
I had always wondered what it was like to walk up a mountain, each time I passed one in a car or bus. Well on this trek I accidentally found out so I can tick that off my list. I knew this trek was hilly. Actually 8km literally uphill.
It was a lovely sunny day and I set off making good time. The path winds it’s way up meadows before turning into forrest. At the 4K mark the path split into two different destinations. I stopped to eat a sandwich. I continued and promptly left my camera and hat behind only realising when I tried to take a photo of a butterfly.
I raced back down the track and a man told me he had seen the camera where I left it, retreated the camera, but not the hat and continued up the path. When the forrest ends abruptly I walked up the very to top the mountain where it is mostly rock. There are a few streams that cross the landscape and the snow and ice appear. I went to put on my hat and found that I had also left this behind me on the path. Annoyed but determined I’d find it I continued only to realise I’d left my camera behind when I tried to take another picture of a butterfly. Luckily it was not too far behind me. I realised I was exhausted after the early start and was determined to reach the viewpoint, knowing the summit was out of ny reach. I was in quite a lot of pain but pushed on and was rewarded with this view while I ate the rest of my lunch.
As i sat some condors flew overheard. I love watching these birds. They normally fly in pairs at really high altitudes.
My ears were cold because of the lack of hat so I decided to make the return journey and on the way managed to photograph a butterfly and moth.
I ran into an American man and he told me my hat was on the sign where the pasta split. I rushed back and was reunited with my hat. I’m wondering when my luck is going to run out as I’d had the best of the weather in El Chaltén too-it was due to turn tomorrow. I had a very relaxing walk downhill and when I got back to my hostel realised I’d walked 28k and climbed 344 floors. I think this is a record for me and was an appropriate end to my El Chaltén trekking trip.
5 thoughts on “El Chaitén – Fitz Roy, Cerró Torre and Loma del Pliegue Tumbado”
Dave, you are going to have to attach all your things to you so you don’t keep leaving them behind!!!
Stunning photos and I am impressed by all your hiking and camping ⛺️
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Thanks. It’s about to get 100 times harder! Yeahhhhhh i don’t know what to do with my stuff. If I lose more it’s less to carry I suppose…
Great post, buddy! I am writing up our trip in the Chilean Patagonia, but perhaps I should put Argentina on my next trip list after reading your post.
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Thanks for the comment. I see you have been in Torres del Paine hiking the O. I’m headed there now to do the same. El Chaltén is definitely worth visiting. It possible better as the camping is free and day treks are really easy rather than having to do multi days. Although I’ll confirm which is better after I finish the O. I hope nothing bad happened?
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My wife and I actually really enjoy multiday hikes which takes us away from the hustle and bustle of our jobs and lives. But you are right that the permitting and camp reservation process can be quite a hassle. Enjoy the O, my friend.