Objective is a traverse of the icecap surrounding the Fitzroy and Cerro Torre ranges taking in as much of the icecap as we can. We get onto the ice at Paso Marconi and leave at Paso del Viento. If conditions allow we shall make day trips out onto the ice towards Cerro Moreno/Lautaro and the Nunatek Viedma. If we have spare days at the end of the circuit we shall make short trips into the heart of the Fitzroy and Cerro Torre mountains and glaciers.
We are taking bookings for our trips to the Southern Patagonian Icecap (Continental Hielo Sur) in southern Argentina in November and December. Due to the difficult nature of the expedition we keep the group small. Only 6 places are available on this trip.
N.B This is likely to be an extremely demanding trip! Our 2006 expedition was completed in glorious weather. Our 2010 trip was beset by high winds and precipitation. 2011 was unusual in that we completed the full itinerary in glorious windless and sunny weather. BUT..... with the right mental attitude you can be assured the experience of a lifetime!
For those going on Expeditions to Patagonia, Polar or Greater Ranges we run a short 2 day "Expedition Preparation Course" which can be "bolted on" to our existing Winter Skills Mountaineering or Alpine Introduction Courses
Visit our 2011 Expedition page for updates, maps, itineraries and tracking
The objective of the trip is to make a circuit of the Fitzroy and Cerro Torre Ranges, traversing the Patagonian Icecap from Marconi pass to Paso del Viento.
Day 1 - Arrival El Calefate airport. Transfer to El Chalten (3hrs).
Day 2 - Day in El Chalten buying food and provisions. Team meeting and discussion. Visit National Park Office. Get passports stamped and authorised by Gendarmerie. Tent erection practice in high winds!
Day 3 - Private transport to trailhead at Rio Electrico. Walk to refugio at Piedra del Fraile (Los Troncos) through fine woodland and riverside scenery. Level, sheltered and good, clean water available.
Day 4 - Move up to "La Playita" campsite by the side of Lago Electrico. Cross some small hills and then the Rio Pollone before it becomes in spate. Over an awkward section of loose terrain and a headland before dropping down to sheltered camp by lake. Great views up the Pollone valley to Fitzroy NW face and Cerro Pollone.
Day 5 - Big day. 1000m ascent to the Icecap via the Marconi Glacier and Paso Marconi. From camop we rise to the base of the Marconi glacier via a loose section of old moraine. Then we get onto the easy lower glacier and cvross a medial moraine before reaching the base of the Seracs. From here the ground steepens until we top out on gentler terrain leading slowly and inexorably towards the Paso Marconi. This section is mentally tough and the winds are usually strong as the Marconi pass becomes a funnel for the winds coming from the west. On reaching the slight decine onto the campo de Hielo Sur some relief is felt. We set up our snow walls and tents on the icecap.
Day 6- Day trip heading west out on the icecap towards Cerro Lautaro or Cerro Moreno. Return to Icefield camp
Day 7 - Traverse southwards on the icecap to the Cirque de los Altares. A relativeley gentle day with superb views if clear. The feeling is one of being at sea and it is difficult to get a sense of scale. The views open up and the Cerro Torre group with Fitroy behind come into view. We make our campiste at the entrance to the cirque.
Day 8 - Day trip across the ice to visit to Nunatek Viedma. Return to camp at Cirque de los Altares.
Day 9 - Southwards again coming off the icecap at the head of the Viedma Glacier. A difficult section follows crossing the constantly changing moraines past Laguna de Esquis. Camp at a bivouac site near to Lago Ferrari below the Paso del Viento.
Day 10 - We traverse to the base and then steeply up to the Paso del Viento. Then it's down towards the Tunel Glacier with marvellous views northwards towards Cerro's Grande and Solo. We cross the lower Tunel glacier and then loose moraines before eventually dropping down to a sandy campsite alongside the tranquil Lago Toro.
Day 11 - Next day walk out to El Chalten. After crossing the waist deep Rio Toro, we have a 16km walk out with a 500m ascent along the way. Great views along the way though, over to the turquoise Lago Viedma and back to Fitzroy and Cerro torre. We encounter green forests and fields of flowers, a contrast after the white of the icecap. We drop down to El chalten for a welcome return to civilisation!
Days 12 & 13 - spare days in case of bad weather. El Chalten
Day 14 - Bus to airport at El Calafate. Flights home
Advice and Recommendations for Travellers to El Chalten, Patagonia
Useful website for mountain information, photos, access, weather and history at PATAclimb
Does not include:
NOTE: Participants do not need great technical experience but should be able to use crapons and ice axe efficiently. Also basic crevasse rescue techniques are an advantage (our winter skills courses would be ideal). You should also be comfortable with "camp life" and making your own meals. A certain level of discomfort should be expected.
(1) Extend your trip by adding on the Torres del Paine independently
(2) Alternatives - Fantastic glacier trekking should bad weather affect the ice cap traverse. Multi day trips ascending the glaciers beneath Cerro Torre or Fitzroy, using the Agostini and Poincenet campsites.
(3) It is essential people have the right quality kit, as it could very well end up saving your life. We can advise on suitability.
(4) There are no guarantees with the itinerary. This is tough, difficult terrain with the likelihood of bad weather affecting some part of the trip. We use Sat Messengers to obtain up to date weather forecasts and this can help in planning but be prepared for some uncomfortable times. BUT the rewards are there to be had!