One day in El Chaltén
Back in early 2013, Dominik and I arrived in El Chaltén after three days of hitchhiking and taking buses from El Bolsón. To say that we were knackered by the time we got there would be an understatement, but after our first decent night’s sleep in a while, we decided to hike to Laguna Torre on our first full day in the town – here are some photos from what turned out to be one of the best days I had during my six months in South America.
After setting off reasonably late, in near-perfect weather, a view of Mount Fitz Roy greeted us about 10 minutes into our hike. Some other hikers told us that the peak hadn’t made an appearance for three or four days, due to bad weather – perhaps taking a bit longer to get to El Chaltén wasn’t such a bad thing after all…
The cloud formations in Patagonia are some of the best I have seen on my travels – possibly only matched by those found in Tasmania, although I’m probably fairly biased!
That near-perfect weather I mentioned earlier was a distant memory by the time we reached Laguna Torre, as we were met by some of the strongest winds we’ve ever experienced. Looking back, I can kind of understand the strange looks our attire of shorts and t-shirts drew from the other hikers wrapped up in their hiking gear.
Undeterred, we decided to climb another 2km around the edge of the lagoon to the lookout for a better view of the Torre Glacier. Despite nearly being blown off the path more than a dozen times, it was definitely worth it – our amusement probably overshadowing how dicey it actually was.
It was almost 4pm when we got one third of the way back to El Chaltén, so we decided to head to Laguna de los Tres, at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy. A local guide estimated that it would take us six and a half hours of solid walking, but daylight until 10pm and the rate in which we covered the trails during our hikes around El Bolsón left us pretty confident of getting back before it got dark.
The change in weather was drastic – there wasn’t a breath of wind as we walked past Lagunas Hija and Madre…
Before it kicked up again, on what must have been the hardest part of the day – the ascent to Laguna de los Tres. That’s Laguna Madre from the previous photo in the centre of this picture, with Laguna Hija just off to its right.
It was easily worth the climb though!
We spent around half an hour there – enough time for some food and a few photos – before starting our descent.
We got back to El Chaltén at 9:30pm, less than six hours after chatting to the guide and with some daylight to spare. The next day we worked out that we must have covered more than 40km, or around 25 miles – definitely not something we expected to do when we set out that morning!
Even though we’d had some fairly draining days on the way to El Chaltén, we didn’t let it affect us once we were there. By focusing on the present, we were able to draw upon the excitement that comes with being in a new place and really enjoy what that moment in that environment had to offer.
We may have packed around two or three days of hiking into one, but it’s not a day I’ll be forgetting in a hurry!