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A 9 day expedition for hikers with previous mountaineering experience
In a landscape of wild natural beauty, this small expedition will lead you through a world of endless frozen scenery. Vertical granite walls, a challenge only reserved for the best climbers in the world, and hanging glaciers will be your escorts throughout the entire trip. The view of the infinite frozen plains of the Patagonian Icecap will leave you breathless.
Excellent fitness, motivation to challenge difficulties and good teamwork will lead this expedition to success.
Highly qualified Mountain Guides take care of the security background, making sure you enjoy the trip in this fascinating landscape
Day 1: Arrival at El Chaltén, preparation and familiarisation with the expedition gear and the rest of the team members. Overnight in El Chaltén.
Day 2: After a short transfer to Río Eléctrico an easy walk through a beautiful beech forest, brings us to Piedra del Fraile: the Base Camp for the Fitz Roy ascents from the North side.
From hereon the vegetation disappears abruptly and a world of rock, ice and snow starts dominating the scenery. The path roams through glacier-eroded rocks and over moraines and finally reaches the Polone river. Depending on water depth we might get our feet wet, but after a short walk surrounding the Lago Eléctrico we will soon be at our first camp.
Vertical drop: 200 meters in ascent.
Estimated time: 4 ½ hours walk
Day 3: This is a key day for our expedition.
After an hour of laborious ascent over moraines we reach the Marconi glacier which will allow us a comfortable walk on the ice towards the pass.
While enjoying majestic views of the vertical walls of Fitz Roy, Pier Giorgio, Polone and other granite giants with their surrounding hanging glaciers, step by step, we will be gaining altitude towards the pass.
After overcoming a short but steeper slope we will take a short rest while packing our loads on the sledges. After another hour pulling the slegde uphill, the scenery at the pass will take your breath away: the immense Patagonian Icecap lays at our feet. Hundreds of square kilometres of ice fields, limited only by distant mountain ranges covered with pristine glaciers.
Camp in the proximity of the pass.
Vertical drop: 800 meters in ascent.
Estimated time: 6 to 8 hours walk, depending on weather and snow conditions.
Day 4: After packing the tents down and loading the sledges our excursion continues southwards. With no weight on our backs, pulling our gear comfortably on the sledges our way borders now the Marconi range with its incredible ice “mushrooms” hanging high on the ridge. To our right, only the distant Moreno range and Lautaro volcano confines the basin of the Viedma glacier.
After a 4 to 5 hour walk it is worth concluding the day at the “Circo de los Altares”: a spectacular amphitheatre of solid rock and ice, including the vertical west wall of Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and other rock and ice giants.
Vertical drop: 150 meters in descent.
Estimated time: 4 to 5 hours walk depending on snow conditions.
Day 5: If weather conditions are good enough and we are still in schedule it is worth while to stay another day at this area and plan a one day excursion from this camp. The “Circo de los Altares” and the Cerro Torre with its 2 thousand meters of solid rock covered with ice, create one of the most majestic landscapes in all the Patagonian Andes. This is no doubt one of the most fascinating spots in the entire world for extreme climbers.
Day 6: We continue our way southwards dragging our sledges over the ice. Slowly we will be leaving the Circo de los Altares behind. The Adela mountain range with huge hanging glaciers drifting down from the summit and breaking into thousands of seracs, will now start dominating the scenery.
Estimated time: 4 to 5 hours depending on snow and crevasses conditions.
By the end of the day, crevasses will be increasingly forcing us to zig - zag around them.
It is now time to put our backpacks on and, after an hour walk we will be reaching “Laguna de los Esquíes”. Here, we will put up our first camp on solid ground again.
Vertical drop: 200 metres in descent.
Day 7: Carrying all our remaining food and gear in our packs, and after two hours struggling over an almost endless moraine we reach “Paso del Viento”, the “Wind Pass”, and a beautiful view of the Cerro Grande, Solo and Hongos de Hielo (“Ice Mushrooms”) opens to our sight. Deep in the valley lie the Quervain and Tunel glaciers.
Three hours walking downwards, over grass slopes, moraines and glacier will take us to the bottom of the valley. The glacial cold “Río Tunel” will provide us with some fun and wet feet. After wading it, a remaining half an hour walk around the Lago Toro will get our feet warm again.
We finally arrive at our last camp and are happy, after staying several days in this rock and ice environment, to build up our tents under beautiful Patagonian beeches.
Vertical drop: 300 meters upwards and 800 meters descending.
Estimated time: 5 to 6 hours.
Day 8: After putting down our tents, all the gear will be packed on the horses.
Light weighted, we stroll over prairies and through the woods down to El Chaltén.
Overnight in El Chaltén.
Vertical drop: 450 meters upward and 700 meters in descent.
Estimated time: 5 to 6 hours walk.
Day 9: Breakfast and departure to El Calafate or Río Gallegos Airport.
Included in the package:
.Mountain Guide during the expedition.
. Guide helper/s (1 up to 5 persons and 2 from 6 to 8)
. Transfer from El Chaltén to the start of the trail, Río Eléctrico.
. Safety and camping gear such as: ropes, snow shovels, cooking sets, high performance camping stoves, etc.
. North Face tents, light weight sledges to drag the backpacks over the ice, insulation-mat.
. Horseback transportation for the equipment from Lago Toro to Chaltén.
. Full board during the whole expedition.
Transfer from and to Río Gallegos or El Calafate.
. Porters to carry the equipment.
. Personal mountaineering gear such as: boots, backpack, etc..
. Part of this gear can be rented locally in El Chaltén. Please ask in advance.
. Lodging and meals at El Chaltén.
Good sleeping bag, 80 litre backpack (minimum capacity, not including side pockets), shell mountaineering boots, gaiters, crampons, ski or trekking poles, climbing seat harness, Thermarest matt (better sleeping comfort), water bottle or unbreakable thermal bottle, head flashlight with extra battery, big strong plastic bag to protect backpack content, small plastic bags for the rest of the gear.
Rain and wind wear: jacket and overpants (waterproof and breathable shell, with side zippers), synthetic fabric hiking pants, two pairs of good gloves and waterproof glove shell, warm hat with ear cover, high factor sun-screen and lip-protection , glacier-sunglasses, goggles, fleece windproof jacket, function underwear, extra underwear, etc.. Light sneakers to wade Polone and Tunnel rivers and use in the camps.
Previous outdoors, camping and some mountaineering experience is required for this tour. Some ice walking experience with crampons will be of good help. Although the traverse does not require climbing skills the way leads mainly off the beaten path, over moraines, rock, snow and ice.
The aspirants should be in good physical shape in order to walk up to 8 hours per day.
Some days you will be carrying up to 20 kilos in your backpacks, carrying the personal equipment and some group gear such as ropes, tents or food.
During the trip over the ice Alta Montaña will provide each member with a sleigh to drag the backpack over the glacier.
The transportation of the backpacks from Lago Toro to Chaltén, on the last day of the trip, will be done on horseback.
We remind you that this expedition will lead you far away from civilisation; wind and harsh weather conditions can make the way hard and difficult, therefore a good mountaineering team spirit will help us overcome difficulties with fun and will turn this expedition into an overwhelming adventure.
This expedition is, no doubt, one of the most beautiful adventures you can challenge in our southern Patagonia. Its way will lead you through this world-renowned majestic scenery and will allow you to experience fascinating moments in a completely untouched landscape.