So it´s offical. As far as exciting camping excursions, breath-taking landscapes, and quaint mountain towns go, El Chaltén has spoiled us rotten. Honestly. Even now after returning to Bariloche (which only 3 weeks ago we believed to be the most beautiful place on the planet) we find ourselves looking at the massive glaciers (dwarfed in comparison) with gorgeous, cascading waterfalls flowing into the pristine lakes and just kinding of shrugging them off unimpressed. So now what do we do?!? Where do we go from here??? I´m becoming seriously worried that we may have peaked too early...and I´m scared people, actually terrified. I´m sure you all at home are sitting there, reading this and thinking I´m being a little dramatic, so I suppose an explanation is in order for you to truly understand why El Chaltén was such an ideal trip and, furthermore, my current dilemma (or honestly if you´re already bored with my rambling just look at the photos. They will be way better than anything I write trying to describe them).
We spent our first night in El Chaltén at by far the nicest hostel we've stayed in yet (i.e it was clean with a huge communal kitchen, comfy beds, private bathrooms, fast internet, a flat screen, crazy helicopter pilots/ pizza chefs that flew off in their military choppers each morning) and planned our trekking route with our newfound Australian comrades, Michael and Adam, whom we met in our hostel in El Calafate. They were really cool guys and fantastic trekking partners- funny, excitable, always willing to share some extra food, carry the trash bag, or get up early to put the boil on for morning tea. Needless to say, we all got along great. So, anyways, the four of us and another friend from our hostel, an Israeli named Erez who was joining us for the first dayhike, set out early from the center of town.
So El Chaltén is at the north end of Parque Nacional de Los Glaciares (El Calafate and Perito Moreno glacier are in the southern part of the park). The trek was actually fairly easy going- our first day we trekked out along Rio Fitz Roy to Laguna Torre at the base of Cerro Torre (3102m). So yeah, behold another pale blue glacial lake at the foot of a towering mountain.
Our second day we trekked along a slightly steeper path to the base of Monte Fitz Roy (3405m), the biggest baddest peak in the range. We passed a few very scenic lakes (Lagos Madre y Hija) and climbed the extremely sharp incline up to Laguna De Los Tres (which has a beautiful waterfall cascading into Laguna Sucia) at the base of the massive vertical rockfaces of Fitz Roy.
Fitz Roy is awesome. Only something like 200 people have ever climbed it; and apparently if you wake at sunrise, you can see the rocks glow red as the sun hits them (all the marble in the peaks). While it was way to freaking cold to wake up at sunrise (somewhere around -4 degrees C), we saw some very nice pictures from our neighbors at the campsite -- WHO (this is Kate for a moment, as only I would find this exciting) had the same pack AND tent as me! What are the chances. I immediately knew they were people of fine taste and shared my hot cocoa. Just kidding, I didn't have any, but if I did, I would have shared. OKAY SORRY back to Wes).
The third day was essentially a very quick trek back to El Chaltén, where we feasted (unfortunately not on Pizza Libre, all you can eat pizza, which we were expecting) but on some gigantic Lomo completo sandwiches (Grilled steak, lettuce, tomato, onion, gruyere sandwiches).