2014 Patagonia (3/3): Los Glaciares National Park

Places Patagonia, Argentina. El Chaltèn, Los Glaciares National Park
Time & length March 2014, 1 week
Partners solo trip
Towards the end of my journey I spent another week in the northern part of Los Glaciares National Park close to El Chaltèn. First I did some hiking on the eastern side of the mountains, and then I climbed Paso del Viento and enjoyed a wonderful view over the magnificent South Patagonian Ice Field. The trip ended with a hike along Viedma Glacier and the return to El Chaltèn.

Another Time Lapse that mainly shows clouds moving over mountains and ice in that gorgeous place.

After I returned from Torres del Paine National Park in Chile I spent a night in El Calafate and took the early bus to El Chaltèn in the morning of March 8. I brought food for one week but didn’t actually know where to go in particular. So as soon as I arrived I bought a topographic map and studied it for an hour. The decision was made by noon; this was my route: Rio Eléctrico – Laguna Piedras Blancas – Laguna de los Tres – Laguna Torre – Laguna Toro – Paso del Viento – Viedma Glacier – El Chaltèn.

Since I didn’t want to lose any more time, I hitchhiked right to Rio Eléctrico and started my hike. In the afternoon I reached Laguna Piedras Blancas in light snowfall and pitched my tent at Camp Poincenot.

The next morning I hiked up to Laguna de los Tres and enjoyed an amazing view of Mt. Fitz Roy. This mountain must have been photographed thousands of times – for good reason; it’s a wonderful view. I was happy to be there in such good weather!

A day later I reached Laguna Torro in the rain, which didn’t really bother me much. I’d had plenty of sunshine in the weeks before, so there was definitely no reason to complain.

Now I planned to climb Paso de las Gachonas, which is a shortcut on the way to Lago Toro. They told me that this pass is very difficult to find and that you would have to be registered at the ranger station before hiking up there (which of course I wasn’t). At night I met a Canadian marathon runner and Iron Man who tried to reach the pass that very day but had to back up due to route finding difficulties. I asked him if he wanted to join me, and he gratefully accepted. So we hiked up the pass on March 10 – since route finding in trail-less terrain is something I have done for years now we didn’t have any problems at all. The same goes for crossing Rio Fitz Roy on foot: whoever says that this is impossible (which I had been told) has been proven wrong.

After a night at Lago Toro I started climbing Paso del Viento (1.415 m) at sunrise. I picked a perfect day; even the wind wasn’t too bad. The view over the ice field was absolutely incredible – I realized that I would never have gotten there if my plan in Chile had worked out, so at that moment I was actually kind of glad how things had turned out before in Torres del Paine.

I camped at Refugio Paso del Viento and hiked along Viedma Glacier back to El Chaltèn. The next two days were wonderful; only a couple of hours before I reached town the rain started.


I’m quite happy about my time in Patagonia. It might not be the vast wilderness I know from Alaska, but still it’s an impressive place! The mix of great wilderness travel, some social experiences and the view of glaciers and ice made this journey very special; I’m really happy about my decision to visit South America for the first time. All that would have been a little different if my first hike (the 20 days I spent with Alan) hadn’t been that successful – I think this was still this trip’s highlight.

I’m now preparing for Alaska where I will be guiding this summer. It is going to be my fifth time up there and I can’t wait to return to these remote and wild places, the wildlife, and the friends I’ve made in the years before. It’s not that I missed all this so terribly in Patagonia, yet this journey has not quite replaced my favorite place to go – Alaska.