Cerro Torre: Towering Above the Clouds

We were standing at the mirador watching the clouds play hide and seek with the jagged peaks of Cerro Torre. Clouds had come in overnight, shrouding the mountains in a bluish gray pallor, limiting our views of the three granite spires. Fortunately the clouds were at the level of the higher peaks and made for some interesting photography.

Laguna TorreToday we were hiking the Laguna Torre trail, the shorter and less strenuous of the three recommended hikes. This was the same trail that Sally did on our first full day here while we bummed around in El Chalten.

The first mile of the trail was a steep uphill climb that followed the contours of the Fitz Roy river valley. It was hard to get going as the hike the day before took a toll on D’s stamina and legs. 15 minutes into the hike we reached our first viewpoint of the Fitz Roy river gorge and Cascada Margarita across the way. We continued to push through, getting great views of Fitz Roy and spotting an adult parrot feeding a juvenile along the way.

Argentina El ChaltenArgentina El ChaltenIt wasn’t until we arrived at “Mirador Cerro Torre” where we got our first view of Cerro Torre and the expansive mountain range with the peaks of Fitz Roy photobombing the scene on the right. The views of the towers were spectacular even on a cloudy day.

Argentina El Chalten
Mirador Cerro Torre
Argentina El Chalten
Cerro Torre Range
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Cerro Torre
Argentina El Chalten
Fitz Roy

From the mirador, we followed the trail downhill and then through flat terrain until we reached a river, keeping a look out for the rare huemel, an endangered South Andean deer. Sally had spotted a huemel crossing the river in this exact area and we were hoping to see one as well. No such luck. We used the opportunity to fill our water bottles.

After one final uphill climb over loose scree we finally reached Laguna Torre. The scene before us was very reminiscent of Torres del Paine with the Cerro Torre and Glacier Torre serving as a stunning backdrop to the grey green water. We scampered the short distance down to the shore where we ate our empanadas (b/c we are in Argentina after all) while we sat mesmerized, watching the interaction of the peaks with the clouds.

Argentina El ChaltenOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe contemplated going further to another lookout Mirador Maestri about another 45 minute hike for overhead views of the glacier but our tired legs protested. We came back on a slightly different path through Prestadores campground and re-entered the town on its north end where a rodeo show was going on.

Argentina El ChaltenArgentina El ChaltenArgentina El Chalten From our perch on top of the hill we were able to take in the show while a couple of male voices on loudspeakers narrated non-stop about the action.

Argentina El Chalten

Why does this make me think of Breaking Bad? A place to get aspirin, toothpaste and meth?

Argentina El Chalten

We met up with Sally at the hotel where she shared her experience hiking the Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado and showed us her pictures. We were blown away by the amazing panaromic views of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy.

We celebrated the end of Sally’s Patagonia adventure with a great dinner at La Tapera. We couldn’t think of anyone better with whom to travel and to discover new wonders. The things we saw, the time we spent and the experiences we had in Patagonia is something we will always share. It was the end of the journey for Sally but for us it continues.

The next day Sally left to go home while we decided to extend our stay in El Chalten for one more day to relax and catch up. The next morning we hiked the Los Condores trail by the visitor center before we had to catch our bus to El Calafate. Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and Fitz Roy wasn’t visible. We regretted not going the day before when it was absolutely clear and just shows you that when you have a gorgeous day in Patagonia you do not waste it.

Argentina El Chalten

Trail Info:

Length (RT):   17km / 11 miles
Duration:        6 to 8 hours
Difficulty:       Moderate
Why:                Views of Cerro Torre up close

Eats:

La Tapera
El Chalten, Argentina

Located in a cute log cabin this excellent restaurant serves modern Argentine fare with an international twist. We had the bondiola (pork shoulder), chicken w/rice (more like fried rice than Spanish chicken and rice), and our favorite stew, locro. Tejado Negro had better locro. Dessert was Volcano Chocolate cake with calafate ice cream. Cash only.

Yenu
El Chalten, Argentina

Food was very good, serving classic Argentine fare. Had the Milanesa with mash and steak sandwich.

Patagonia Rebelde
El Chalten, Argentina

Simple restaurant that specialized in al disco, a huge, Argentina-style stew that is cooked in enormous iron platters. We had the Bondiola al disco mixed with veggies and fries plus a side salad. Dessert was rice pudding. The al disco was really tasty and we wished we’d discovered this restaurant sooner.Argentina El Chalten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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