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El Chalten trekking expedition

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Argentina Travel > Argentina Tours > El Chalten: about 25 kilometers to the northwest of Cerro Torre from Circo de los Altares

We had several options... the most challenging and attractive one was to get to "Paso Moreno", about 25 kilometers to the northwest of "Cerro Torre", from "Circo de los Altares" specifically, going in and out through "Paso Marconi".

Stunning views from Calafate Trekking on the glaciers Perito Moreno glacier
Icy tour at El Chalten

Cruise through argentine glaciers


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

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El Chalten offers different trekking possibilities. Longer tracks should be evaluated carefully with local guides.

The recommended are to LAGUNA TORRES (full day) a mild climb. To RIO BLANCO AND LAGUNA DE LOS TRES (just in front of Fitz Roy peak). TRAVESIA INTERLAGOS which ay take 2 days and reaches the lakes of Capri, De los tres and Madre and hija. And a trip to CAMPAMENTO BASE, which connects all bases with visits to Piedras Blancas glacier and ends at Electric lake-
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Visit our packages page to learn more about tours in Argentina

Crossing the glaciers on an Icy tour

We started the preparation for the expedition five months in advance. Everything was taken into consideration: from the food to socks and underwear. The starting point was "El Pilar" Inn , in "El Chalten". The expedition, which was 9 days long, took place in February.

Day 1: We left at around noon , thinking of the difficult trip till "La Playita", where the first night is normally spent for the Return to Continental Ice, 70 km in all. "La Playita" is quite protected from the strong winds blowing from Continental Ice and is located on the west coast of "Lago Electrico" ( Electric Lake ), 120 km from El Pilar Inn.

At 5:30 p.m., after a hard 5-hour walk through the Pollone river -which brings meltwater from the homonymous glacier, we got to La Playita. We had some juice, some "salamines", fixed the tents, walked around and went to bed early to prepare for the following long day.


Day 2: We headed for the Marconi glacier at around 9; and, 4 hours later we ran into our food and material storage delivered to lighten our weight. Now the biggest unevenness of the expedition started. After a 7 hour walk we came to the "Paso", we crossed it, and set up camp. We had 2 tents, cutlery and cooking utensils, ropes, security equipment, harnesses, pickaxes, crampons, racket snowshoes, etc.
We took care of different tasks: melting snow for water, protecting sleeping bags from humidity, preparing the perimetrical ice wall against a possible storm and creating forms on the snow/ice such as seats and a stove. The first day and night were great: it was cold only in some small areas.


Day 3: A gift from God: a new participant in the group: a sled!!! -the most looked-after member, since we put everything on it -tents, food, fuel.

Our objective, getting to Paso Moreno, was achieved after trekking for 7 hours over a distance of 23 kilometers. The journey was silent, sunny and the icefield extended over 180. Again, we started to prepare our "home", melt snow, cook and dry some wet stuff we had. Humidity in theses cases is a bad enemy.

Day 4: Another fantastic day. So, we had breakfast, and got ready for a long walk. The aim was getting further to the north of the icefield, inside the vastness. The rest of the day was nice. The only visible thing on the sky was the trail of planes flying to or from Chile.

Day 5: The day was quite unstable. We planned crossing the icefield again from west to east to get to our next point: the "Circo de los Altares" (The Altars' Circus), an amphitheater-shaped area surrounded by a mountain range in a circle and crowned by the "Cerro Torre" (Tower Hill).

We crossed the icefield and, 7 hours later, we got to the Circle where we started to set up our camp at around 6 p.m. There was a light, warm wind which completely melted our contention wall. Because of this high temperature, the ice became softer and we spent a lot of time and energy trying not to sink in the snow.


Day 6: The weather continued stable and very good. Therefore, we could start another day of exploration, getting inside the Circo de los Altares. Clouds were lower than usual, changing the shapes and colors of the mountains. The stretch between Circo de los Altares and Paso Marconi (12 kilometers) is the most traveled; that's why we saw footprints of previous groups we hadn't seen before.

We started trekking at noon and stopped at 8 p.m. in Paso Marconi, under a hanging glacier situated in the northern end of the "Cordon Marconi" (Marconi Range). We went back to the camp wishing the weather stayed good to cross the glacier the following day.

Day 7:We got up very early to go through the unevenness of the Marconi glacier at the most stable time of day. We went down avoiding cracks and sooner than planned we were on the horizontal area of the glacier to walk our last 5 kilometers... to finally get to La Playita, where we would sleep on earth after 6 days of sleeping on ice.

We started taking out our damp clothes and sleeping bags. Now we could sit anywhere; we wouldn't get wet!

Day 8: As we had considered an extra day in case the weather was bad, we decided to stay a night in "Piedra del Fraile" (The Priest's Stone), back in El Pilar. We decided to visit "Paso del Cuadrado" (The Quadrangle's Pass), which is highly recommended (a guide is required).
To get to the place you need to be in good shape since from the start you walk at an angle of 40. As we got near the top, we could see the Marconi glacier, "Gorra Blanca" (White Cap) and part of "Hielo Continental Sur" (South Continental Ice).

When vegetation ends, at approximately 1,100 meters high, there's a stone path till the base of the "Cuadrado" glacier, where the last 800 meters start. At the end, we found a rock edge from which we had an excellent view of Fitz Roy, Mermoz, Guillaumet, Pollone and the grand Cerro Torre and its range.

Day 9: Not so early and sending our equipment to El Pilar, we started the way up to Paso del Cuadrado. The weather was still magically ideal. As we got to the rock edge, we enjoyed a unique view of Fitz Roy and its range and Cerro Torre. We definitely agree that this is the best view among intermediate trekking areas. We began the way down to the inn, being grateful for the gifts we had received.
We had admired with our own eyes places of absolute beauty, knowing this natural vastness would stay with us for ever.

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