Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011, October 20th - 25th: El Chalten, Argentina

2011, October 20th - 25th
El Chalten, Argentina

First Exposure to this Mecca for Mountain Lovers:
Glaciar Grande & Ascent of Pliegue Tumbano

For a full complement of photos, follow this link to Flickr:

El Chalten

El Chalten, a young town formed in 1985, is a mountain lovers dream. It is set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring peaks - the most notable of which are Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. These spires stand sentry on a beautiful area of peaks, glaciers, ice fields and lakes. The townsfolk are very friendly and it has been a good place to rest after the numerous mountain treks I have completed here.

Any mountain expeditions around El Chalten are dictated by the weather, so people here check it at least once a day. One feature people watch out for are the forecasted wind speeds. Fierce winds come off the nearby ice field and even when you are not on the peaks (e.g. in town) the winds are often strong - in fact if you were bothered by wind El Chalten would drive you nuts because it is (reportedly) windy here about 300 days per year!

Glaciar Grande - 21st October, 2011

This glacier (and the accompanying lake - Lago Torre) can be reached after a three hour hike from town. Glaciar Grande is one of the many glaciers than ´flow´ down from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field - a vast expanse of ice from which El Chalten is sheltered by the mountains.

Lago Torre with Glaciar Grande in the Background

Tim Above Glaciar Grande

My guided group explored a little of the glacier. In the afternoon, the clouds and mists that had hidden Cerro Torre lifted just enough to make out the form of some of the granite spires - creating a somewhat mystical scene of ice, spires and mist (akin to an image from a book by Tolkein). As well as the (near) horizontal sections at the front of the glacier it was also amazing to see the ´feed´ sections flowing down from the higher mountain sections and main ice field that lies behing Cerro Torre.

Glaciar Grande (Foreground) with Cerro Torre (Hidden in Mist in the Background) 

Ascent of Pliegue Tumbano - 22nd October, 2011

As a lovely clear day was forecast I took the chance to climb Pliegue Tumbano, a relatively easy peak (1490m / 4887ft). The (almost) clear skies gave me some magnificent views of Cerro Solo, Fitz Roy, Largo Torre and Glaciar Grande (where I had been the previous day).

Summit of Pliegue Tumbano

View from Summit of Pliegue Tumbano with Cerro Solo (Left), Cerro Torre (Hidden in Mist), Fitz Roy in the Background & Glaciar Grande & Lago Torre in Midground

The next few days were spend planning the ice trek (see next blog entry).

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