El Calafate To El Chalten

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November 25th 2005
Published: December 3rd 2005
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After spending the night at the glacier, we checked into a hostel in El Calafate. El Calafate is a tourist town in Southern Patagonia filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Although the Spring tourist season just recently geared up this month, the streets were packed with Euopean tourists who were here to tour the glaciers and explore the mountains. We were aware of many Germans, French, Spanish, Italians, British and Australians but noticed only a handful of Americans in El Calafete and El Chalten. By far, most of our interactions in El Calafate were with Isreali tourists who were in their early twenties and are here for 6 -12 months. At least 14 young Isreali men and women stayed in our hostel during the nights that we spent there. Hundreds of them tour South America as a break after serving in the Isreali military, usually before going back to college or joining the workforce. Louis hit it off with a group of them and spent hours conversing with them. They were very complimentary about all of our guys and how well behaved and intelligent they were. On our second night, Noah unveiled his original adaptation of the board game Risk which he calls "Risque".
Noah's game takes place on a giant map of the world the size of a picnic table. He has reworked the boundaries of the various countries and given the new countries clever new names.

The main quandry we faced in El Calafate was when to
drive out to El Chalten to hike around Mount Fitz Roy, one of the world's most photogenic mountains. The weather there is famous for being unpredictable and can be downright nasty during the Spring months. Since the internet weather showed a week of continuous bad weather, we figured we might as well head out there and hope for a break. When we pulled into the frontier town of El Chalten, the
majestic mountains were shrouded in a blanket of clouds which hid them completely. A brutal cold wind was blowing and we heard that it might snow the following day. Nevertheless, we pitched our tents and spent as much time as possible in a warm restaurant over coffee. The following morning we decided to hike up toward the mouintain anyway
in spite of the cold and the threat of rain and snow. After an hour of continuous uphill hiking, the drizzle turned into snow. When had a quick lunch near the Fitz Roy base camp and then headed back down.
We discussed the benefits of philosophy at times like these and how it can be useful in helping to deal with disappointments. We spent the night back in our camp fully expecting to leave the following morning without seeing the mountain since the word was that the bad weather was expected to continue for the next 5 days. We awoke to the sun warming up our tents. The mountains were shrouded in a veil of clouds that appeared to be lifting. Louis, Alex, and Rich decided to go back up even though they were still stiff from the previous day's trek. As we progressed back up the trail, the clouds lifted completely. To say the least, it was an exhilarating experience.

Additional photos below
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26th November 2005

More pix!
What a beautiful place.

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