El Chalten Patagonia
The arrival in El Chaltén will mark my memory forever. Yet nothing predestined me to discover this place. My trip, which initially wanted to be Chilean, will by force of circumstances force me to go through Argentina (see article: trip to Chilean Patagonia).
Destiny always has beautiful surprises in store for us and this one, without question, is one of them. So here I am on Argentinian roads. The landscapes are somewhat similar to Chilean Patagonia but as you approach El Chaltén the scenery suddenly turns into something grandiose. On the canvas of the great steppes with grilled short grass, a lagoon of unreal colors looms. The blue tinted with turquoise which suddenly dominates the horizon contrasts with this omnipresent orange-yellow. This luminosity which captures my gaze opens my eyes, me who dozed gently on the bench, and marvels at the scenery which settles down as the bus moves in its direction.
The horizon becomes sharper and I can now see a line of mountains ... The Andes cordillera offers itself a spectacle!
What a surprise to see in the middle of nowhere in the desert and ultra-flat immensity of the steppes line of mountains rising from the ground and invading the entire horizon. After steppes as far as the eye can see, here is a chain of mountains as far as the eye can see. Patagonia in all its excess!
Imagine an orange foreground, almost desert, with a turquoise lagoon stretching the horizon and as a backdrop the high snow-capped peaks of the Andes mountain range which split the sky with all their verticality! Unforgettable.
What to do in El Chaltén?
El Chaltén reminds me of the Chamonix of yesteryear. The kind of place where you feel so good that you seriously consider putting your bags down for a few months. A small town lost in the middle of the mountains, made up of two main streets of hotels, homestays and restaurants. Here, in the few cafes that line the road, rub shoulders with the best mountaineers in the world, hikers, climbers, long-time travelers. Coming from different countries and horizons, all are nevertheless animated by the same passion, the mountain, dominated in this high place of mountaineering, by the famous Fitz Roy. Here reigns this mountain and relaxed atmosphere, in its greatest simplicity, which I love so much, me the little one from Yaute!
I will stay there for 4 days under a dazzling sun with a permanent unobstructed view of the summit of Fitz Roy. It seems to be incredible luck! I find it hard to believe it because over the month and a half that I will spend in Patagonia I only had 2 days of rain. You have to believe that the sun accompanied me on this adventure.
Mirador Cerro Torre
This is a hike worth the detour, doable for the day from El Chaltén. The view of Cerro Torre and its impressive glacier from the viewpoint is breathtaking. The entire climb to reach the viewpoint is varied due to its flora and fauna. You might be lucky, just like me, to be accompanied by parrot flights along the way.
Arrived at the edge of Laguna Torre, the peak of Cerro will not fail to impress you. Its vertical wall is majestic and makes you want to go scratching a few lengths. We settle down at the edge of the lake to eat and soak up the place when all of a sudden my gaze is caught by mountaineers who have obviously just taken off the Cerro Torre. With their happy face and their enthusiasm to throw themselves into the lagoon (whose water is freezing) to take a shower, I understand that they are coming back from a colorful adventure ... Ah, they make me dream. It's inspiring to hang out in these places. The mountains, the many happy-looking mountaineers and the backpackers of the world that I meet on these paths permeate my trip. I dream of myself as a mountaineer surveying such beautiful peaks .... Who knows, maybe one day.
Mirador Fitz Roy
The trek to do is obviously the one that leads to the foot of Fitz Roy. The best way to take advantage of it is to do it in a minimum of two days. Only here ... I left to survey Chile for 3 months with my backpack as my only companion and, while I certainly have an ultra warm sleeping bag, I did not have to occupy myself with a tent. But, at breakfast, Jerry, a Belgian adventurer who met several times during my trip, made me a proposal. "If you want I have a hammock in addition to my tent, we can go camping up there, I'll lend it to you for the night and we'll come back down tomorrow." I don't need more to make up my mind!
Here we go to the shop. Chips, beers and a stove in your pocket we drink one last coffee before going to survey the mountain. The hike is beautiful but the weight of my bag weighs me down. Fortunately, on the climb we will find a magnificent spot for swimming and having lunch.
Our overnight camp is better than I could have imagined. The Poincenot campsite has only the name of a campsite. We are simply housed in a forest that does not include any human construction, framed wilderness camping, to put it simply. I like this respectful way of enjoying nature in all simplicity. For the toilets, a shovel is available, it's up to you to dig your hole.
Once the tent and the hammock are installed, we drink a well-deserved beer! The cold is starting to bite and it's time for me to curl up in my sleeping bag, in the hammock. Well, we're not going to lie to each other, I slept badly ... The cold pierces the hammock and my sleeping bag at the point of contact but the many waking up in the night will have the merit of making me see one of the most beautiful sights, the sky madly starry from Patagonia! There is no light pollution here, the sky is filled with thousands of stars and the summit of Fitz Roy, whose walls are snow-capped, shines under the reflections of the moon. The magic of the moment makes me float in a well-being that only humility in the face of the immensity of the world and the elements can make us feel.
In the early morning we start the last climb that separates us from the Laguna de Los Tres. The view of the Fitz Roy is of course spectacular and we will even have the chance to have a curious raptor to complete this setting.
On the way back we decide to take the path that passes along Laguna Madre and Hija to make a loop. The hike is beautiful.
El Chaltén is really a favorite of my trip to Patagonia and I highly recommend it to all mountain lovers. It is possible to do many activities there such as hiking, climbing, mountaineering ...