Argentina, and Patagonia in particular are stunningly beautiful places, and somewhere that I have always wanted to visit since. It was a shame that when I finally had a chance, I had such a limited time in the area, but I knew that I had to make the most of it.
I decided to head out to the Fitz Roy mountain range, which is something of a Mecca for those people interested in the best climbing in Argentina. With a tight schedule though, I dint really have the time to wait for the weather to clear at Torres Mont or some of the other notable ascents, and so instead, settled on a three day trek in the area.
The town of El Chalten, which acted as my staging point, was a bit of an eye opener. Dogs roaming the streets and a real frontiers feel too it. It turned out that the town itself was only built in 1985 as part of some sort of complicated “land grab” to stop Chile from claiming the area. As it is, all I will say, is that it will be nice when it is finished.
If anyone else is coming here to start a trek or climbing trip, then it may be nice to know in advance that there is not an ATM machine (yet) and other services are a bit hit and miss. If you are coming from the far better equipped town of El Calafate, it is wiser to both stock up with supplies there, and to withdraw any money you may need. Depending on connections etc, it may be the last time you get a cell signal or are able to use the internet as well.
That said, El Chalten was perfect for my needs, and my trek started from the town itself. Laguna Torre was my first destination, and as luck would have it, I had a perfect day, with little wind and clear skies. This made for a far more pleasant hike, and also meant that I had a good view of Cerro Torre. There was a free campground just before the laguna, which was quite busy with climbers waiting to climb Cerro Torre, and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy. Still, my hike was nice enough, and the views spectacular. I decided to stay the night at the free campground.
The next day, I took the path up towards the Laguna de los Tres. Navigation for this was fairly simple with a mix of signposts and common sense. Although the campsite called Poincenot is supposed to be for the exclusive use of climbers, I got away with staying there as I was only one person, and had a small tent I could pitch out of the way. This meant that I could leave my gear set up, and then continue on to the laguna itself unhindered. Extremely worthwhile, as it was very beautiful.
The next day, it was the trek back to the town. I felt as though I had seen some of Patagonia at last, but wont deny that it has left me wanting to see so much more. There are still lakes, glaciers and mountains that are calling my name, and I will return to the region just as soon as I can!