Sunday, April 12, 2009

El Chalten

First off, I added pictures to my Calafate post. Check em out!

I spent 3 and a half days in El Chalten. The skies smiled down on me with two clear days where the entire Fitz Roy range was framed by blue. Meeting people along the Patagonian trail, I've heard you're lucky to get a few clear hours (especially this late in the season). It's one of those places where you can live through three seasons in a single day, so I'm not a odds man but two full summer days wasn't bad.

Easter weekend is the last hoorah for the smaller southern towns like El Chalten. It's hard to get a cup of coffee on mainstreet come next week, but while I was there Chalten was still bustling. Because it was Semana Santa there was a large Argentine crowd in town. All of them smuggly drinking their mate and walking around like they owned the place.

I stayed at a hostel on the corner of town called Aylen Aike. It was a small place that someone I met on the bus from Calafate had heard about. The owner was cool, always calling it the Hostel of Rock and putting on painfully dated Deep Purple or Cult concert DVDs. I was the only foreigner there he talked to in Spanish. It ain't braggin if it's true.

There are two main hikes that originate from the edge of El Chalten, and they leave you with unbelievable views of Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre respectively - the two prominent peaks of the Fitz Roy range. The hike to Laguna de Los Tres was the longer of the two and I tackled it on my first full day there. It ends at a lagoon below Fitz Roy. The night before I had seen hikers walking around my hostel bow-legged after the hike, but didn't understand why until the last hour and a half which was a steep ascent, essentially straight up with small zig-zags where there was loose rock. In the words of Michael Sanders, 'You had to want it. Fact.' It was painful but led to one of the more rewarding views of my life. There are miradors along the way with clear shots of Fitz Roy, but nothing like this.

I had lunch down by the lagoon.

O.K. no gladiators at top, but tell me that doesn't look like the AgroCrag.

Pretty epic picture.

My last day in Chalten I had a bus to Bariloche at 11 pm. The skies cleared by noon so I did the Laguna Torre trek. These pictures are taking forever to upload but here are a few from the Cerro Torre trail. It had rained the night before, and when the clouds cleared the peaks had this fresh coat of white. (The picture at top of the blog is Laguna Torre).

I got into Bariloche this morning at 8 am but it might as well have been 5. Walking down mainstreet while the town woke up I finally found an open cafe and had coffee by the water. Andy recommended a hostel in town called Pudu which I'm off to right now, in serious need of some pampering after a 40 hour bus ride through a whole lot of nothing that is Patagonia.

Happy Easter America.


Mike said...

Hostel of rock? Do I sense a connection? or maybe its just natural affinity

Julia said...

Haha, I was thinking the same thing, the pictures are amazing, I can't imagine the real thing