Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Appreciating Cerro Torre - Los Glaciares National Park - Patagonia

Appreciating Cerro Torre - Patagonia
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Originally uploaded by { Planet Adventure }.
I almost didn't make it here. There was no time on my initial schedule for a trip to Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre. But for whatever reason, I met this kiwi guy in Peru and chating about random things eventually we got to our itineraries and I mentioned that I'd be heading to Patagonia after the Inca Trail. I gave him information about the route I'd be doing, and I mentioned that I had 2 big priorities in Patagonia: 1-Complete the Torres Del Paine Circuit 2- See the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Having said that, he mentioned that his priority in Patagonia was Fitz Roy / Cerro Torre, and the next few words he said would become the trigger for a big and massive change on my initial plans. He said: "But, what a shame you are going to miss Fitz Roy" ... those words hit me baddly, and even not showing that I was felling a bit sad because of the idea of 'missing' these places, I just could not take my thoughts away from it.

Day after day, during the Inca Trail ... there was not a single day I didn't get myself wonddering, is there any way I can manage to go to Fitz Roy / Cerro Torre? I kind of knew the answer for it, but at that point I wasn't believing that it could be done, and trying hard to fight against my own thoughts eventually that issue went away for a while.

Once the Inca Trail was finished, on my way down to Patagonia, whilst on the plain I grabbed guides, maps and notes I had written months, weeks and even days before I set off to Peru. And started to re-do again my trip-plan for Torres Del Paine which was already audacious. By the time I got to Punta Arenas I had drawn a new plan which consisted of finishing the Torres Del Paine Circuit + Side Trips in nothing more than 5 days, 1 day less than the original plann.

With that extra day I would have the time I needed to go and see Fitz Roy / Cerro Torre. So I had to 'work hard' to stick to this new crazy schedule.

Something was making me believe that if nothing goes wrong i.e: get stucked on the John Garner Pass because of rough weather or whatever, I could do it. And all of the sudden just 5 days after having started one of the most amazing hikes on hearth I was again at the Hosteria Las Torres, where it all began.

From there, took the bus to Laguna Amarga and from there back to Puerto Natales, where the next day I would start my trip towards El Calafate in Argentina, and of course straight to El Chalten.

On the 6th of January at 5 in morning I started the last hike for this trip (Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre), where again I basically covered a 2 days hike in 1 (more or less 27kms). The path is very easy compared to what I faced in Torres Del Paine just a few days before. Not to mention I was just carrying my camera gear, all other stuff I had left behind at the hostel where I spent the night.

And this is the epic I went through to get to this place. I have to admit, I would have regret it so much if I haven't at least tried. Specially because I am so far from South America and I have no idea when I will be down there again.

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Monday, 25 June 2007

Sunrise at The Towers - Torres del Paine National Park - Patagonia

I got to the National Park almost 9pm on the 30th Dec, the weather was SUPPERB, I saw the towers from the far away Laguna Amarga check point ... the sun was still high on the sky, it gets dark by 11pm at this time of the year.

Once I got to Hosteria De Las Torres, where I had planned to spend the first night on a camping site nearby something started to tick on my head ... 'go up to Campamento Las Torres', 'go up to Campamento Las Torres' ... I just could not stop thinking that if the weather stayed like it was ... I would have great chances to see the towers at sunrise next morning ...

So, I set off for a 9kms hike at 9pm ... my backpack was loaded with food for 7 days, and I think I don't need to tell you it was heavy, very heavy considering I was carrying all my camping gear as well.

But I just couldn't help it, I was so eager to see this spectacular show of Mother Nature. On my way up to the camping site I had many many short breaks to rest, my back was really felling the weight I was carrying.

After 2 hours I finally got to Campamento Las Torres, where I would be spending the night, I got there almost in the dark, but it was still fine and didn't need to use my flash light. I assembled my tent, prepared some food and went to sleep, God knows how tired I was at that point, I had began my trip down to Patagonia at 8:30 the day before in Lima, from where I flew down to Santiago and from there to Punta Arenas and I didn't have much sleep since then apart from a few naps on the plain ...

Next morning, I woke up by 4am to hike the last 1 KM up to the Base de Las Torres, to see one of the most spectacular sunsires in the world. The temperature was below zero, yeah, that is true, and believe it or not, it is mid summer in patagonia right now. To get things even 'worse' the wind which never stops blowing makes you fell it is even more colder than it actually was.

These towers are known world wide, and have the fame of being one of the most difficult climbs in the world, due to the rough weather conditions in the area. This climb can't be done in one day, the Torre Central has almost 1800 meters from the base ... yeah, is a hell of a wall to climb.

My effort has been paid off. The beautiful redish / goldish colors painting the towers is something unique and unforgetable!! Not even the freezing winds which blow down the glacier and the valleys and make you feel like a penguin is capable of take away a fraction of the emotion you feel standing in from of these gigantic granite rocks with almost 3000 meters in height.

The Group of Las Torres: This is the geological formation that has given its name to the National Park. It comprises 3 golden-colored granite towers of appreciable size and grandeur, with clear lines and well polished by ice which has been working for millions of years and still continues. Perpetually in the direct line of the prevailing winds from the ocean, they remain impassive, challenging the perception of conventional mountains with much smoother, undulating faces. The group comprises the Northen or Agostini Tower, the Southern or Monzino Tower and the biggest of the 3, the Central Tower.

These natural wonders are always inviting the best climbers in the world.

Location: 50°59′S 72°58′W

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Fitz Roy - El Chalten - Patagonia - Argentina

Me - Fitz Roy - El Chalten - Patagonia - Argentina
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Originally uploaded by { Planet Adventure }.
This was quite early in the morning, I was feeling like I won the jackpot on the lottery because of such a incredible weather, in fact I think I did actually, because this place is known for having incredible bad weather, and the locals say that there are really only about 20 clear / sunny days a year - I think I just got one of them :) . I talked to some guys in Torres Del Paine, they were in El Chalten before they headed to Chile, and they waited over one week for the weather get clear enough to see Fitz Roy.

And in my case, having only 1 day to spare in El Chalten, it was a Hit or Miss, luckely enough I Hit it ;) ... I just could not believe how lucky I was, because as I mentioned before I almost didn't make it here.

Fitz Roy Mountain (Cerro Fitz Roy) is located in Parque National Los Glaciares that covers an area of 6,000.000 sq km of mountains, glaciers and lakes in the Santa Cruz Province in the south of Argentina.

The park is situated in the part of the land known as Patagonia. Most of the park is inaccessible for visitors, except for 2 areas - the Fitz Roy area near the twon of Chalten, and the Perito Moreno Glacier which is close to El Calafate.

The national park was declared in 1981 as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Fitz Roy Trek is a walk into the Los Glaciares reserve. The Trek passes through huge granite masifs, blue glaciers and magical lakes. The most notable mountains in the area are the Fitz Roy Mountain - a huge granite masif, at 3405 meters above sea level and the Cerro Torre Mountain, at 3102 meters above sea level.

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