Cerro Fitzroy and Cerro Torre Trek

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
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153
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Trip End Dec 18, 2011


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Where I stayed
Poincenot Campsite
Thiamalu Hosteria
Laguna Torre Campsite

Flag of Argentina  , Santa Cruz,
Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 1 – El Chalten to Poincenot Campsite

On the morning of my 30th birthday I was woken up by Kevin shouting "Liz it's 6.30 get up!". Not the way I’d imagined being woken up on the 3-0!  The reason for the early rise was that we were leaving on a 3 day trek in the northern part of the Parque Nacional de Los Glacieres to see, amongst other amazing sights, close up views of Cerro Fitzroy and Cerro Torre.  Those of you who have read the blog since the beginning may remember that my 29th birthday started in much the same way as it was the first day of our Everest Base Camp trek.  No I do not intend for starting long treks on my birthday to become a tradition!

After speaking to my parents, brother, Kevin’s mum and opening cards that had miraculously made their way to Argentina Kevin gave me the best present ever – video messages from all my family and friends.  He had got them sent to him in case we were camping in the wilderness on my birthday.  They were amazing!! (Thanks everyone)

Finally at 10.30am we were ready to leave – late start but from looking at the map it was an easy day.  As we were camping this added a new level of pain compared to our self-supported trek in New Zealand – we had to carry our home as well as the food and cooking stuff.  Therefore both of us had more weight than before.  30 and tough :).

The first part of the walk was a bit uphill and I could certainly feel the bag.  We stopped regularly to 'look at views over the Rio del Bosque’!  The first view of the Fitzroy mountain came after about an hour at a crowded lookout point.  We left quickly and walked to Lake Capri which was a little quieter for more views and some lunch.  We reached the campsite by 3pm and set up the tent before deciding what to do.  As there were still loads of people hreading up to Lagunas los Tres, the popular walk to see Fitzroy, we decided to leave that until the next morning and did a different side trip to Glacier Piedra Blanca.  The first part of the walk was along the river with no specific path.  It was easy enough and except for when Kevin sunk his whole shoe into the mud it wasn’t very exciting.  However when we turned off to the glacier view it got interesting.  We had to clamber over increasingly bigger boulders finding our own path to get to the lake.  To be honest you can see more of the glacier from further away but the view was stunning from the lake regardless and it was o quiet and tranquil there as we were alone. 

My birthday dinner consisted of pasta, arrabiata sauce and I treated myself by adding some sausage!  Kevin was nice and cooked for a change.  Unfortunately we had the unwanted company of an irritating American lad who wouldn’t take the hint and go away.  I don’t think he would have bothered me so much but he was one of those single travellers again who has to find people to talk to (annoy) but in reality isn’t interested in them at all.  He finally went to ‘scout out’ the really obvious route up to Lagos de los tres for the tomorrow so Kevin gave me my last present – a little bottle of Champagne that he had thoughtfully carried all day.  All in all a great 1st day trek and a great birthday!



Day 2 – Poincenot Campsite to Laguna Torre Campsite

We were up at about 7 am on day 2 to get an early start up to the Lago de los Tres for the views of Fitz Roy. Not as early as some of the other campers who were off at 4am to catch the sunrise but early enough for us. We had a breakfast of cake and jam, left the tent up with most of our gear inside as we’d be coming back, and set off. The weather was amazing, as it always seems to be when we trek, so we had amazing views in all directions on the way up. It’s a tough enough climb but with the lighter bags and it still being cool in the morning it wasn’t too bad. We met 3 or 4 early starters on their way back down but from what we could tell we were the only people on the way up. As we got near the top we had to trudge through a little bit of snow before coming over the final crest to a stunning up close view of Fitz Roy. The sky was perfectly blue behind and the little bit of cloud lingering in front of the peaks just added to the atmosphere. We sat for ages just chatting and staring and proved we were now in our 30s by even drinking cup-a-soup from a thermos. Ramblers Association here we come! We eventually got ourselves up off our rock and strolled around the side of the snow covered lake in front of Fitzroy for more incredible views into Lago Sucia and up Glacier Rio Blanco. It was stunning. Just like blue Gatorade as our American friend had told us when we met on the way up. After about an hour in total at the top, still being the only people there, we started heading down. All the cloud had now cleared so we got some last perfect pictures of Fitz Roy before leaving.

By the time we got the bottom we felt very lucky as it had now clouded over and although you could still see the peaks, the grey background just didn’t look as good as the blue! We ate lunch by the tent watching the hoards of tour groups passing by and up the hill, glad we weren’t in the middle of them. We loaded up our backpacks and head on towards Torre. Our going was slow with the full bags but mostly because we were feeling lazy and stopping way too much. The short cut between the Fitz Roy and Torre treks isn’t used much as most people do both as day treks but is actually really pretty.  You pass by a number of lakes, Madre, Hija & Nieta, through some forest before a steepish down to the valley. As soon as you get to the bottom you get your first views of Cerro Torre. It’s a really stunning peak, looking more like an Ice Queen’s Palace than a mountain. We had amazing views all the way in to the campsite and the weather had even been nice enough to clear up again. The campsite is right at the foot of the moraine so it’s a short walk up to the top and views of the iceberg strewn lake and Torre behind. So close in fact we went up before and after dinner. It was a day of amazing views and some tough walking but we were really glad we’d decided to camp as it really helps avoid the crowds and lets you be much more flexible with the weather.

Day 3 – Laguna Torre Campsite to El Chalten

We were very lucky the day before getting such spectacular views of Cerro Torre all afternoon as it’s notorious for always being covered in low thick cloud.  The next morning however it reverted to type.  Ok for us as we got up later than planned but didn’t miss anything like the clear sunrise we had thought about.  Even once we were up we were very slow packing up and having breakfast, in fact we were the last people up and moving on the campsite – even the two old French men who couldn’t walk but looked like they were going climbing were faster! Oh well, we had all day and only a short walk back to town so who cares?!  Having enjoyed the cuppa soup in our flask so much the day before at Fitzroy (no we’re not old) we made up another batch for a break on the way back, and left the campsite. 

As we were walking along the path away from Torre we started passing loads of day walkers, and as mean as it sounds we were a bit smug that we had managed to get such great views the day before.  I guess when Torre has the reputation for being covered it isn’t as disappointing anyway.  We stopped a couple of times but basically walked non-stop back to El Chalten. There are nice views but the scenery is nowhere near as spectacular walking in that direction.  My back was extremely happy when after a couple of hours it saw El Chalten below as we came over the final crest.

We spent the rest of the day doing exactly nothing completely chilled out. When we eventually dragged ourselves out of our room it was to go for what turned out to be an amazing dinner at xxxxx Great steaks and red wine :). 
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