Approaching El Chalten in the bus was spectacular. The sun had just come up, lighting up the the towering jagged granite spires that are the dominating features of the area, and will be featuring in many of the accomapanying photos. The two main features are the Torres, three impossibly tall, narrow spires and Cerro Fitz-Roy, a huge granite hump, flanked by several smaller jagged peaks, all cloaked in snow and ice.

Since we arrived so early in the day and had done some shopping in Bariloche already, after stashing some of our stuff, we were able to hit the trails straight away and walk right out of the tiny town, still groggy from our 33 hours on the bus. We left with our new friend Mark leading the way, but it wasn’t long before he was fanging it along ahead of us and we were on our own.

The first hike we did was four days and we went along the main tourist tracks. Our first camp was Lago Torres, fed by the waters melting off the glacier Grande which we could see winding down from beneath the three huge spires. Although it was quite cold, especially when the wind was blowing, it was not nearly as cold as we were expecting, and we didn’t ever have to use all of our many layers. The water running in the steams and rivers is icy cold however, not really surprising since a lot of it has just melted off a huge block of ice.

Our second camp, where we spent two nights, was Camp Poincenot, just below the huge Cerro Fitz-Roy. We did several little excursions from here, and the scenery was absolutely stunning. Lago Los Tres was especially beautiful. A still lake, perched way up on one of the foot hills, with Fits-Roy still looming high above it. I was constantly amazed and decieved by the scale of things. We would walk up hills that looked to be just underneath the mountain, only to arrive at the top to see the mountain was even bigger and more looming than before.

We were very lucky in that the weather, normally very windy and rainy, was unusually good and we had clear skies most of the time. This inspired me to get up in the cold with my camera for sunrise every morning and the early sun lighting up the yellow, sometimes red rock was really special. On the last morning I was even able to persuade Sophie to get up in the dark and climb the arduous path up the Laguna Los Tres for the sunrise.

After roughing it for four days we returned to town for a night in town on a soft bed, content that we had seen most of the major sights and ready to catch a bus onwards to El Calafate the next day.

ElChalten, Hike One
ElChalten, Hike One
Laguna Torre, Laguna Sucia, Laguna Los Tres and back.