on thursday 19 april, we arrived in el chalten, a quaint town situation in a valley below cerro fitz roy, one of the most infamous peaks in patagonia. we took a 4 hour bus ride from el calafate and planned to stay here until saturday night, when we had a reservation for a 10 hour bus up north to los antiguos, a mid way point on our way towards bariloche.
our first afternoon we took a short 2 mike hike to a waterfall and relaxed there for the afternoon.
the next two days we would be plagued with snow, heavy downpours, and high winds – which kept us in the hostel. they say that there are only 2-3 nice days here per month, and the weather was not in our favor.
on saturday we headed to check our bus reservation (the town is walkable in 15 mins from one end to the other), and our reservation had never been fully booked. the next bus we could get up north wasn’t for a week, so we changed plans last minute and decided to head back down south to torres del paine on sunday. our hostel didn’t have any beds saturday night, and the weather was starting to clear, so we went camping for the night in the national park here, about a 2 mile hike.
we didn’t start our hike until 10pm, at which point it started to snow heavily, but we didn’t turn back as we needed to get out after spending 2 days inside among the hiking and climbing capital of argentina. the owner of the hostel told us we were crazy, but i wasn’t giving up. the further along our hike we got, the higher we went, and the thicker the snow got. we got to the campsite around midnight, which sat right beside lagoon capri, and were relived to see about 10 other tents.
camping in the snow was so calming. the winds were very strong and would brush the snowflakes across the outsides of our tent. it created such a soothing sound in combination with the crisp air wiping across my face. all of my gear did an amazing job of keeping me warm through the night. i had on a pair of smartwool pants and t-shirt, patagonia r1 fleece and down sweater, and wool socks, in my down sleeping bag it kept me nice and toasty.
in the morning, we woke up to a snowy tent city, and were among a group of photographers led by max vine, a famous photographer who has a large IG following. chris burkhard, another famous outdoor travel photographer, was also in town with his crew, so i was among many pros. the people who were in the tent next to us was a father and son pair, the father was 81! camping in below freezing temps!
we had planned to hike to cerro torre but the snow was still coming down and it was very foggy, so we grabbed an earlier 3 bus back to calafate, and then will take a 4 hour bus to puerto natales, which is the starting point to head into TDP.
it’s very hard to sleep or read on the busses here because the landscapes and roads are just incredible. so desolate and so expansive – it’s a good reminder of how big this world is that we live in.