2/14-2/15 Traveling from Chile to Argentina
Before we could recover from our 4 day backpacking trip we were faced with trying to buy Argentinian bus tickets from Puerto Natales (Chile) to El Calafate (Argentina) and on to El Chalten (Argentina). El Calafate was hosting a week long music concert driving up the cost of hotels and booking all the buses in and out of the city. To us it was just a layover to get to the small remote hiking/climbing town of El Chalten. We finally managed to get tickets to El Calafate arriving around midnight, but still couldn’t get tickets for the next leg of the trip in Argentina. After many failed attempts at trying to contact Argentinian companies from Chile we surrendered and decided to have dinner. We were giving advice to an Australian couple and Irish traveler about the W-loop in Torres del Paine when we mentioned our bus predicament. Luckily for us they mentioned a website where you can buy Argentinian bus tickets!
It still took us 2 days, a really short but expensive hotel stay, and many hours riding on a bus full of backpackers to reach El Chalten. That afternoon we hiked to Las Aguilas and Los Condores view points. The Fitz Roy and Torre ranges were socked in with clouds, but it was nice to stretch our legs.
Rock climbers walking through town – a common sight in El Chalten
2/16 Day Hike to Fitz Roy
We had decided not to backpack in El Chalten since nearly all the trails can be day-hiked and the weather and wind are unpredictable. So when we woke up in our hotel and saw it was rainy, we were glad for the comfy hotel, and were happy to take the chance that the storm would pass, which it did by mid morning. Other photographers in our hotel decided to take the day to sort through photos and sadly missed out on a spectacular view of the mountain. We got a shuttle to take us down the road so we could hike 14 miles back to our hotel. The hike started in an open forest shading the intense sun, but we could catch glimpses of Fitz Roy through the trees. Eventually after 3 miles we reached a view point of Piedras Blancas, a glacier fed lake on the back side of Fitz Roy.
Side of Fitz Roy
We continued hiking 3 miles across the open landscape with the iconic Fitz Roy range (used in the Patagonia clothing logo) on the horizon. We made it to Poincenot, a popular backpacking campground, hidden in the trees and last bit of shade before the push to the top.
We’ve found on steep inclines it is better to take it slow but rarely stop. We play the tortoise in the classic story, while other hare-like hikers storm past us. On a long climb like this we often ultimately reach the top first as they continue to feel the pressure to stay ahead of us, it always satisfying when we overcome them as they are exhausted trying to rest in the hot sun. We both know the game that is being played and we usually smile as we pass them for the last time, and they usually smile back knowing they’ve lost.
There is always someone more hardcore, like this couple who carried their baby up to the top!
The view point of Fitz Roy is incredible with the green Laguna de Los Tres at the base of the large granite spires. We were lucky the clouds cleared for us to take a few…162 photos of the peaks.
After we ate lunch we watched the clouds engulf the peaks so we turned around and headed back down almost 8 miles and 2,500 feet to El Chalten.
We stayed in the Poincenot hotel while in El Chalten and took advantage of the local restaurants and enjoyed a lot of lamb, steak, and wine!
2/17 Day Hike to Cerro Torre Range
The next morning it was cloudy, but it was our last day so we wanted to make the best of it. We hiked 7 miles out to Laguna Torre and had lunch. We watched pieces of ice from the Glacier Grande wash ashore.
After completing another 14 mile day of hiking we were glad it was the last of our hiking, but also sad that our trip was coming to an end. It felt like we were just getting used to traveling in South America.