Crossing into Chile

First, I had to take a bus transfer from El Chalten to the Lago del Desierto and then a boat to cross the lake.

Another view of Fitz Roy from the back of the boat in Lago del Desierto

Then, we had an 8 hour walk to the next lake. I paid to have a horse carry my big backpack and I crossed over the border about 2 hours into the walk.

Lago O'Higgins is visible here, my destination for the day and the site of the Chilean border authorities, a lonely office where they stamped my passport. This is probably Chile's most isolated border post - hardly any sign of human life could be seen along the immense lake.

Martina, a German architect, joined me for the adventure.
Check the turqoise of the lake!!

We camped out at a family outpost along the lake, Candelario Mancilla, the only settlement there besides the boat dock and the border guards. The next day a boat came to take us across the lake...

El Chalten

This small frontier town was my base for a week as I ventured up in the mountains. Argentina built a town here 30 years ago in order to lay claim to the land before Chile could beat them to it. They were putting in concrete sidewalks while we were there even though the roads were not yet paved and there was lots of construction. The town was mostly hostels and tourists.

seen from above

seen from even further above

me, killing time before the weekend when I would venture into Chile taking the once a week boat to cross Lago O'Higgins on Saturday.

Fitz Roy

At 6:10 AM, the very punctual Europeans (3 French and 1 Swiss) woke me up for an ascent to the Laguna de los Tres at the base of the famous Fitz Roy mountain peak. Our headlamps were not the only lights dotting the dark and steep rocky path as we made our way up; at least a dozen Israelis had the same idea. After watching a documentary about some climbers who repeatedly failed at summiting the Fitz Roy peak, I had some fresh respect for just how insane the peak is and for the climbers who make it to the top or even try to arrive at the summit. I suppose a lot depends on the weather. Lucky for us, we had perfect weather, completely clear days for all of our hiking in the National Park of the Glaciers.

David and Claire waiting for the sun to hit the peak: hordes of Israelis in background

ah, in all its splendor but with a pesky cloud in the way...the ice is a glacier by the way

David and Claire plus the other French whose names I can't recall

a little farther up, Claire and Laguna Sucia

Laguna Sucia and David scrambling

the pesky cloud finally went away to give a full view of the big rock, Fitz Roy

Fitz Roy a different day as seen from Laguna Capri

Cerro Torre

very dramatic peak Cerro Torre. Here I got up at sunrise, literally freezing my feet off in my hammock, and went up to the lagoon to take some pictures as the sun hit the peaks. I think it reminded me of the castle of/in? Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films...How many pictures can one take of rocks? Let's see...


glacial water...brrrr

ducks in the torre's reflection

Though I could not argue with the dramatic beauty of the peaks around El Chalten, I couldn´t believe the amount of foreign tourists. It just didn't seem right to hike a few hours into pristine wilderness only to have to share a crowded campground with dozens of 'trekkers' - mostly Israelis.

Ruta 40

32 hour bus ride with bumpy gravel road 95% of the time from El Bolson to El Chalten. The guy who sold me my ticket told me this was the scenic route; it was mostly just desert scrub all day long but the sunrise was spectacular. I bet the last 7 hours were scenic, but it was dark; we arrived at 5 AM.

By chance and luck, David and Claire, my cohorts in natural construction at CIDEP, from France and Switzerland, respectively, happened to be in the seats directly in front of mine for the epic bus ride! Here they are pictured on the bank of a river in Los Antiguos for our lunch break during the ride down south. They let me tag along with them in El Chalten and for a hike up to the famed mountain peaks there.