Words cannot describe El Chalten but i shall try!

Trip Start Feb 03, 2013
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Trip End Dec 13, 2013


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What I did
Mount Fitz Roy

Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Friday, March 22, 2013

We said goodbye to the tourist, nothing to do town of El
Calafate for El Chalten where we knew there were hikes galore.


 22nd March – We were up early to get the bus to El Chalten which was about 3 hours away. The weather was beautiful and we could already clearly see Mount Fitz Roy (El Chaltens main attraction) in the distance. The scenery from El Calafate to El Chalten was so beautiful but I
couldn’t keep my eyes open. There is something about a comfy warm bus that puts me to sleep. You obviously trained me well as a kid Mum and Dad with all them long distance trips!

Once we got to El Chalten the bus stopped at the North Los Glaciares National Park office and a park ranger boarded. For a minute I thought we were going to have to pay another park entrance fee but the lady park ranger said we would all be going into the office for a chat about what to do in the area. What a lovely introduction to a lovely little town. I instantly fell in love with this little gem and its 1000 residents. So the lady ranger pointed out some treks we could do and told us about the fauna and flora to look out for. Unfortunately we didn’t see any deer or pumas but we did spot many condors and two eagles.

We then all piled back on the bus for the short trip over the bridge to the bus station. This town is a one road in one road out town. We then walked the couple of blocks to our hostel and tried to check in. We gave our names to the girl and she had no record of us. I pulled up the email from hostelbookers and had booked it for the following week – d’oh! We were very lucky though as they did have two beds for us for the three days we wanted so we checked in. At check in we met two people who had been in our previous hostel, a girl from Chicago and Christian, a lovely guy from Oz who we would be seeing a lot of over the next week.

The girl at the hostel then sat us down with a map and told us what we could do, everybody is so proud of El Chalten and are just waiting to show it off, and I would soon see why. With the day being so clear you could see the two main mountains, Torre and Fitz Roy, from the dining room window. She told us about a walk that would take 8 hours and today would be a perfect
day for it. As it was already gone midday I had only expected to do a couple of hours but wanting to take advantage of the weather so we raced out to do the Loma Pliegue Tumbado trail.

It was a constant incline of 1000m but the views were incredible. The entire way we could see the mountain range and had discussions over whether Mount Fitz Roy was the mountain from Paramount pictures logo. We had convinced ourselves that it was and even took photos of our hands creating a circle around it. We were getting very excited that we could tell everybody
we had seen the real Paramount Mountain. A Google search when we got back shattered our dreams and it wasn’t the paramount pictures mountain – in fact it’s unknown where the mountain is but it didn’t look like Fitz Roy.

We continued on when we heard a very distressing sound from the little forest. We wondered if we would stumble across an injured Puma or deer. We then realised the noise was coming from the trees and looked up to see two birds sat in a tree which we think were Eagles. They must have been protecting their young though as every time we ventured closer they made the
distressing sound louder. We decided to leave them to it.

The lady ranger told us we could fill our water bottles from the streams and lakes and that it was all drinkable so we filled our bottle at the first stream and damn it was nice water, and very much needed as we had been rationing for the last hour as it very warm. The last bit of the trek was hard work with steep inclines along scree slopes but the view from the top was incredible. Unfortunately by the time we got to the top there was some cloud cover so we couldn’t see Torre but we could see mount Fitz Roy, Laguna’s and glaciers.

Normally at the top of mountains the wind is so bad you usually want to wrap up, take a few pics and find shelter. Up here though was a different story. It was probably the most peaceful place I have ever been to, there was nobody around, you couldn’t hear a single thing and the sun was warm. I found a good spot to relax and take it all in, the view was simple breath taking. We accidentally stayed up there for an hour, time just ran away from us, and at 5pm we thought it best to head back before dark. The walk down was tough. I don’t know how or when but I
seemed to have hurt my left knee. It only hurts when going downhill but it meant we took twice as long as expected. We completed the trek in 8 and a half hours, 8 hours was supposed to be the absolute maximum. Christian timed us and he did it in 4 hours and something – absolute mentalist!

So after one hike completed we were a little worse for wear but somehow we didn’t care. The feel of El Chalten and the views we had just seen seemed to make everything alright. Did I already mention that I love this place?

 

23rd March – Before I even got out of bed I hurt in places I didn’t even know existed. With the weather not being so nice today and a choice of two more treks we asked the girl at the hostel which to do. She suggested Laguna Torre as tomorrow was supposed to be nicer to do Mount Fitz Roy. We took her advice and went in search of breakfast (this was the first hostel where breakfast hasn’t been included). The start of the trek was on the side of town and there would only be a 250m level in elevation so not quite the ‘hike’ we did yesterday. Even though the walk was still beautiful with rivers, trees, different type paths, it wasn’t the eye pleasing walk we had done yesterday, today was all about the end result. Laguna Torre is a lake which is fed by a glacier and was hidden from view for the entire trek. We made it to the campsite in good time and here we were told there would be a toilet in the form of a portaloo. We found it, however it was more of a long drop (but not so long) with a portaloo shell. It was so gross I couldn’t even bring myself to walk in there!

We were climbing a small scree hill when then all of a sudden the lake appeared unexpected. It was so nice and again breathtaking. The weather was still very overcast but the lake still appeared very blue and we could see the Glacier in the distance. The lake had many an iceberg on it but unfortunately we didn’t see any fall today. There was another 1 hour hike to the glacier viewing point which takes you right next to the glacier. We decided we were good to do this and headed on up. The view walking along the scree mountain just got better and better and then at the end we were very close to the glacier. This is where we lunched – another cool picnic place to add to our list. We had the place to ourselves again so we just lay there for nearly an hour waiting to see a berg fall from the glacier before calling it a day when the wind picked up and we headed back to the hostel.

 

24th March – Today the weather was really nice again, which for El Chalten is apparently quite unusual so we were feeling very lucky. Today we would be doing the 25km trek to Laguna de Los Tres, the hardest but most rewarding trek.

The trek was really nice with fantastic views most of the way. We ate our lunch at the bottom of what would be the most demanding climb I had ever done (closely followed by Suilven Uncle David!). We were eating our lunch looking up at this near vertical hill with small zig zag paths going up. We couldn’t make our lunch last any longer and it was time to face this demon. The absolute timing on this was 1 hour and it took us about 1 hour 20 – what machine did they have doing these calculations?! Anyway as soon as we got to the top and saw the view of an incredibly shaped mountain towering over a beautiful blue coloured lake, the pain form the climb was instantly forgiven and forgotten.

Wow I just can’t put into words just how nice it was. The cloud that had covered the mountain all day had vanished so we had a picture perfect view and all though we did take ALOT of pictures of it, it still can’t do it justice – I’m going to put it out there as the nicest view I have ever
experienced! We climbed another small hill to get an even better view of a second lake which had another glacier over it and here we saw an avalanche!

Knowing the descent we had in front of us we didn’t stay at the top as long as we would have liked but then I could have stayed there all day. The descent was more horrible than the ascent, my knee hurt so much I was in complete agony, there may have been some tears, but I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. The rest of the trek was fine, it only seems to be when I
walk down hill so we powered on back for a nice dinner of homemade beer and a lush patagonian lamb pizza, excellent way to end a fantastic three days!

 

So they were our adventures of El Chalten and if anybody ever gets the chance to go I could not recommend it highly enough!

 

Many more Patagonian adventures to come from Garry so stay tuned!

 

Much Love,

K x x x
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