March 9 – 14, 2020
Day 517 – 522
After the Carretera austral, we crossed again to Argentina and then we went to El Chaltén: the hiking capital of Argentina.
The city is dominated by two mountains: Fitz Roy and Cerro Torres. These mountains are considered to be the hardest climbing in the world. It is a dream to many climbers.
The most known trek in El Chaltén Is the Huemul circuit. A 4 days loop going accross some of the most beautiful landscape in the area.
We heard many good things about it from our fellow travelers. So we were planning on doing it. We prepared for a day in El Chaltén, just the time to buy the food and prepare our bags. I also bought a new tent, since my last one was stolen.
And then we left for this 4 days trek, on which we added an extra day to see some extra things, which make it 5 days.
Day 1 : Laguna Torre – 13km
The first day is an easy 3 hours hike to reach the Laguna Torre, from where you are suppose to see the Cerro Torre.
Well we were not very lucky. The mountain is often in the clouds so you actually have to be lucky to see it. And for us it was very cloudy and even raining a bit.
Being much more in the south than before in my trip, it is more cold, so the glaciers start much lower in altitude. Here at the Laguna, at ~600m, there is already a glacier, which make icebergs into the lake. I think it is the first time I ever see icebergs like this. It is wonderful.
We walk a bit closer to the glacier to have a better view on it. It extend pretty far away !
We setup the camp nearby in the camping. The best thing about this national park is that everything is free. They put some campsite where you have to go. There is also dry toilets. This prevent people to put their tent everywhere and destroying the place. And since the place is quite crowded, it is much better.
Time also to try the new tent I bought, after I got my last one stolen a few days before.
Day 2 : Lago Toro – 15km
The weather the next day is a bit better. But still no Cerro Torre. So we continue our trek.
The singularity of it is also that to cross some rivers, you have to use a Zipline. The first one is here, so we get our gears on, and we cross the river.
It is a bit physical, but also very unusual.
The next part of the day, we go up to go though a pass. by going up, we have the chance to have a better view on the surrounding.
by the time we reach the pass, we are there in the afternoon. And the view from the pass is gorgeous ! We can the Laguna Torre from a better viewpoint, and also have a look on the other side and the glacier Huemul. But still no Cerro Torre. He his hiding in the clouds still.
We arrive at the end of the day at the campsite. Pitch our tent and cook. From the campsite, we can have a small preview on what is waiting for us on the next day. We can see a glacier ahead.
Day 3 : Paso del viento – 23km
A few minutes after starting walking, we arrive to the second Zipline of the trek. This one is easier but more impressive as we go accross a small canyon.
The first part of the day, we have to get accross a glacier and walk on it. It is “dirty” and full of rocks so no need of crampons.
This trek is quite famous amongst travelers, because I think it is quite complete. For example here you even have to walk on a glacier.
After the glacier, we then have to pass the first pass of the trek: el paso del viento. We have a view on the south Patagonian ice field: the 3rd biggest ice field after Antarctica and Greenland. It is basically HUGE, and white.
After the pass, I did a “small” 12km detour to go walk on the south Patagonian ice field. I first see two Lagunas and I continue further into I reach the ice field and start walking on it.
Since it is the border of the ice field, it is a bit dirty and not really white at first. And the more you walk on it, the cleaner it get. To really reach the white part, I would have to walk quite a bit on it and go far. The size of it is impressive.
I understand why it is called the ice continent. Across it, you can see rivers, crevasses, holes, … Everything to please your eyes.
After a short while, I reach what I was looking for: ice caves. From the outside, it looks like nothing, and it would be easy to miss it. But once you go inside…
It is probably one of the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Inside, the ice is completely transparent and sometimes the light makes it blue. Amazing! It feels strange to walk under it. You fear everything is just gonna break.
The ice cave is quite big, with several entrances I could come in from one side and exit from another. Some parts deep down were also too far for me to reach it without taking risks.
After enough time to enjoy it, I then go back to reach the campsite. I arrive there exhausted and ready to sleep.
Day 4 : Paso Huemul – 18km
During this fourth day, we will go through the second pass of the trek: the Huemul pass. And this pass offer the best viewpoint of the all trek.
After many hours walking, we reach the pass. After that, we just needed to take a small detour to a viewpoint to enjoy an incredible 360° viewpoint.
From one side, we see the Viedma Lake: a huge lake which is powered by the ice of the ice field.
On the other side is the ice field. This time, the weather I much better so we can have a much better view on the ice field. We can truly appreciate the immensity of it.
And in the middle is the meeting of the two. The glacier jump into the lake, which create lots of icebergs. It is beautiful. We only wish to go down there to take a closer look at it.
That was one of the best viewpoint I have seen in any of my treks.
Day 5 : Lago Viedma – 22km
This last day is maybe the most boring one. We walk back to El Chaltén by going next to the lake Viedma.
We can now see the glacier Viedma jumping into the lake from the bottom.
We have to pass our third and last Zipline, before heading back to town where we will rest from this adventure.