Trip Start Nov 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostel Condor de los Andes

Flag of Argentina  , Santa Cruz,
Friday, December 17, 2010

So after a night´s sleep we got up, packed our backpacks again and rolled out into the bracing mountain air. We walked the length of El Chalten´s one paved main road to our new hostel and we promptly talked into doing a 6 hour trek to a viewing point of the infamous Fitz Roy mountain range.

Now, considering people in El Chalten seem to be born with hiking boots on their feet and own incredibly defined leg muscles, I should have realised that a ´walk´three hours each way was going to be taxing to me, anexercised, slightly doughy urbanite. Nonetheless with some water, salami sandwiches and a new woolly hat I set off with Andy. Trek One consisted of up hills and srubland, past petrified felled trees, through snow-covered énchanted´forests and finally over and up and snow covered peak. The wind howled and blew icy gusts from the top. Andy managed to climb a second hill to get a view of Laguna Torre. I was beaten by the wind and the snow and shelted behind a boulder until he was back, hardly believing I was up so high or that I had to walk for another three hours to get home!

In the evening we ate uninspiring pasta and talked to German girls and their new friend who was exactly like Hugh Grant. I hobbled to bed  and aimed to rest the next day.

The next day. And oops, I´d organised to do another trek with two Dutch girls called Yessica and Kirstin. This one was even LONGER and apparently ´quite hard at the end but mostly easy´. Gulp. Two hours through woodland gave amazing views of FitzRoy and the glaciar, which every now and again would rumble and let more ice break off into the lagoons below. We reached the beginning of the summit and started climbing. Puff puff puff. This time even Andy was tired! The steep track changed from soil to log steps to boulders to just rocks and scree we had to scramble up. And up. And up. We both got a touch of vertigo (and a lot of sunburn). An hour and a half of climbing, in which the four of us seriously considered going back, we reached the top of the mountain and stared straight into the face of Fitz Roy and it´s lagoon. Another short climb revealed the second lagoon, complete with crashing waterfall. It was incredibly beautiful, cold and wonderously awe-inspiring.

On the three hour walk back I stopped having fun and got eaten by mosquitos. We ate burgers for dinner and played cards. I made Andy promise we wouldn´t have to walk the next day!

Thank god, we just walked 15 minutes to a secluded stream and ate sandwiches before we were forced to return to the comfy (but crowded) warmth of the hostel. The next day we attempted a longer walk (2 hours only in total) to the waterfalls ´Chorrillo del Salto´. The weather was gloriously bright and sunny, which was good, because Andy managed to slip on a rock into the river and needed to dry out his boots! Our planned lazing in the sun didn´t really work out, however, because we were plagued by horseflies and mozzies almost constantly. Ay mi, what a joke! We ate out first steak in Argentina (the size of my head I kid you not). Buenisimo!

The final day in El Chalten was blustery. The weather tends to change very quickly through the valleys and mountains, however, so we set off to do the 6 hour trek to Laguna Torre, the lagoon coming off of Cerro Torre. This trek was mainly flat through forests, scrubland and next to a river. But Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and in fact all the mountain range in front of us was fast becoming completely obliterated by an amassing grey cloud. Hoping it would blow itself out we trudged onwards, but the winds got stronger and the spray whipped up in spirals from the river. A woman on her way back warned us to be careful. Crossing a particularly windswept part we decided it was better to go back. So we turned and stopped shelted in a wood to eat our lunch. Then I decided it was better to at least reach the laguna. So we tried again and got about 15 mins further, over granite and stones which mixed with the wind and rain to lash our faces. Finally, with the wind nearly knocking us off our feet we gave up. SIX HOURS of walking for a view of a cloud and the ultimate exfoliating facial! Beaten, we went back to our hostel and prepared for our departure further south the next day.

It´s getting colder and nearer Christmas, which means a little further til the end of the world and the land of fire. But first, a visit to a glaciar called Moreno.
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wendywitch61 on

Wow, wow and more wow and well done Lauren for keeping up, your fitness will kick in but it takes a couple of weeks. Andy has been in training with his cycling to work and mega fast walk everywhere for past few years. He also has the advantage of having legs twice as long as yours; so be proud of yourself.
Take care of yourselves too, this was what I was anxious about the sudden weather changes and temperature drops in the mountains. You are very precious so make sure you have local advice and the right equipment please.

Love you very much, Mum (Wendy)

PS All systems go for Christmas here. Tom is home and Abbie has been round wrapping the present mountain. Jane arrives Sunday with Tallulah. We miss you but are glad you are doing what you have needed to do for a long time.

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