Monday, May 14, 2012

Segment 56: El Chalten, Argentina to El Calafate, Argentina (March 11-16, March 23-24, 2012)

some art left by a thankful traveller at Casa de Jesus in El Chalten.  Jesus has been a mountain guide for a decade in the area.

Jesus has installed various art welding pieces around town, namely waste bins.  Above: trekker; below: touring cyclist with trailer...

Amazingly enough, there are no entrance fees at this Chalten sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Although it is already late in the season, we decide to do a 4-day trek in the park.   This route is called the "Vuelta de Huemul" or Huemul Circuit.  Heading off more or less together are: Jeff, Tom, Greg, Cat, Nico, Santiago, James, Deborah, and Byrum. 

Southern beech forest along the trail

the first part of the trek pointed us towards Laguna Toro

... mist rolling in on a drizzly day...

... this is what we had when the mist rolled out...

we started seeing glaciers pretty closeby along this stretch (photo: Cat Magill)

at Laguna Toro, two Upland Geese see below...

Santiago looks for a spot to ford...
Jeff making his way across, in thigh-deep, brutally-cold fast water (photo: Nicolas Garnham)

heading upstream beyond the ford (photo: Greg Altman)

Rio Tunel Glacier, our first good glimpse

Deborah treks on the glacier

somebody say "South America"?

on the glacier (photo: Greg Altman)

... cool ice forms...
(photo: Greg Altman)

Rio Tunel Glacier (photo: Greg Altman)

seen on climb to Paso de Viento

another great look at the glacier (photo: Greg Altman)

arrived at the pass, alt. 1500m, can be dangerously windy at times, luckily no strong winds today

the views from Paso del Viento are mythical, hallucinatory...

the Viedma Glacier in the Southern Patagonia Icefield!
(photo: Greg Altman)

The Southern Patagonia Icefield, which is located mostly in Chile, is the second largest non-polar ice field in the world.  It runs for 350km north-south... 

we were speechless from our vista at Paso del Viento, must be seen to be believed

...some of the muskeg-like vegetation seen while descending from the pass...

In the shelter at Laguna del Refugio.  James prepared "Pizza de montagne"
Laguna del Refugio

This range is called Cordillera Perito Moreno.  Like many geographical features in Argentina, it's named after a so-called Argentine surveying expert who helped identify the "true" border between Chile and Argentina.  (The two countries have fought for many decades over border disputes along the nearly 5000km border)  Needless to say, Perito Moreno is not a pop hero in Chile.  (photo: Cat Magill)

ice chunks floating at the margins (photo: Cat Magill)

yes!  (photo: Greg Altman)

  yes!  (photo: Cat Magill)


siskin seen nearly at our feet

Cat backed by magnificent scenes

...the Viedma Glacier is beautiful beyond belief  (photo: Cat Magill)...

our trek descended for more than 12km along the glacier and then climbed up to Paso Huemul, with views like this one looking back.  (photo: Greg Altman)

a good look at the glacier as it departs the Cordillera Perito Moreno and the greater Southern Patagonia Icefield

on the far side of Paso Huemul we descended in beech forest... (above photo: Greg Altman)

looking down on Lake Viedma from near Paso Huemul

...packing up camp at dawn in this amazing light...

the ascent is hairy enough to warrant a fixed, knotted rope on one section among the cliffs

Lago Viedma  (photo: Greg Altman)

where Viedma Glacier abruptly ends in Lake Viedma

icebergs floating in the lake
Tom and Nico went for it here in frigid water! (photo: Nicolas Garnham)

Tom hopes to get girls this way  (photo: Nicolas Garnham)

this is Cerro Huemul, which our circuit circumnavigates (photo: Greg Altman)

another look at the terminus as we head away (photo: Greg Altman)

James in full stride

Greg makes his way across the second serious ford of the trek

James happy to complete the Huemul Circuit (photo: Cat Magill)

leaving El Chalten for El Calafate, we had this rainbow suspended in the air for a long time...

the cordillera seen from far down the shore of Lake Viedma

we ran into serious headwind on this stretch!  note the official highway sign for high winds

our solution is drafting, in this case with a headwind/sidewind.  Cat, James, and Jeff.

an example of a rural estancia (hacienda) (photo: Greg Altman)

those are guanaco across the river, in the llama family along with llamas, alpacas, and vicuña (photo: Cat Magill)

...we ducked into a highway maintenance station for a moment (photo: Cat Magill)...
turns out they had a pet guanaco.  Even stranger, the dog and the guanaco had become basically boyfriend/girlfriend.  The guanaco was orphaned when its parents were killed by poachers only 4 months before.  (photo: Cat Magill)

pair of Patagonian caracaras  (photos: Greg Altman)
hawk + caracara

(photo: Greg Altman)

Lago Argentina, our first view

camped next to Rio La Leona

this is one method to let your friends know where you are camping

sunset above Rio La Leona

arrived in El Calafate

El Calafate as seen from above

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Absolutely amazing.