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Patagonia: El Chalten

El Chalten


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El Chalten and the FitzRoy massif

El Chalten is a small village located at the north end of the Los Glaciares national park in Argentina near the Chilean border at the base of a spectacular mountain range known as the FitzRoy massif. The town is only about 30 years old and basically exists to support the hikers and climbers who come to tackle the superb hikes in the area. You may recognize the profile of the mountain range as it served as the model for the logo of the Patagonia brand of camping gear which was founded by the famous mountaineer, Yvon Chouinard.

View of FitzRoy on the drive to El Chalten

View of FitzRoy on the drive to El Chalten

FitzRoy and El Chalten at dusk

FitzRoy and El Chalten at dusk

FitzRoy and El Chalten

FitzRoy and El Chalten

FitzRoy massif

FitzRoy massif

Hike to Mirador Piedras Blancas glacier

We took this easy hike as a way to ease into hiking after several comfortable days at the estancia. The hike starts at the El Pilar Inn which is about a 20 km drive up a rough gravel road that follows the Rio de las Vueltas. The hike begins with a great view of FitzRoy which was called Chalten (smoking mountain) by the native Indians because it usually had ‘smoke’ at the peak. The weather was clear and sunny when we began the hike, but by the time we got to the mirador, it was cloudy and began to blow hard. By the time we got back to the car, the wind had picked up considerably and was raining/sleeting. It is commonly said that one can experience all four seasons in one day in Patagonia and this was a good example.

El Chalten

El Chalten

FitzRoy, the smoking mountain

FitzRoy, the smoking mountain

Piedra Blancas glacier

Piedra Blancas glacier

Piedra Blancas glacier

Piedra Blancas glacier

Chorillo del Salto water fall

Chorillo del Salto water fall


Windstorm and lenticular cloud

Windstorm and lenticular cloud

Common road sign in Patagonia

Common road sign in Patagonia

Hike to Laguna Capri

The following day we took the hike to Laguna Capri. This is also a relatively easy hike with spectacular views of FitzRoy along the way. As you can see, we had fantastic weather for this hike.

FitzRoy: the smoking mountain

FitzRoy: the smoking mountain

On the hike to Laguna Capri

On the hike to Laguna Capri

FitzRoy massif on the hike to Laguna Capri

FitzRoy massif on the hike to Laguna Capri

Laguna Capri

Laguna Capri

Hike to Laguna Torre

The most famous and most difficult hike from El Chalten is the one to Laguna de los Tres. We did not attempt this hike but instead did the second-most famous hike, to Laguna Torre. The hike offers the best view of the Cerro Torre, a striking set of peaks with a glacier emptying into the laguna. This hike is rated moderate and is 10 km in length each way. The initial and final parts of the hike are fairly steep but there is long stretch in the middle which is essentially flat. Again we had great weather for this hike.
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On the hike to Laguna Capri

On the hike to Laguna Capri

On the hike to Laguna Torre

On the hike to Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Cerro Torre from Laguna Torre

Cerro Torre from Laguna Torre

Nice spot for lunch at Laguna Torre

Nice spot for lunch at Laguna Torre

Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre

Cerro Torre and Laguna Torre

Posted by neurotraveler 17:19 Archived in Argentina Tagged elchalten

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