Amazing trek up to snowy Las Tres


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South America » Argentina » Santa Cruz » El Chaltén
April 12th 2009
Published: April 15th 2009
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Our legs are sore. Very sore. We have just completed a trek about 30km’s long, that went up and down the whole time. Our walking for the next while is over. In El Chalten we have walked a combined total of 140km’s over three days. Throw in a few mountains peaks and rather large hills and what you end up with is pain and exhaustion. We are not seasoned trekkers or by any means fit so what we’ve completed is an achievement. Michelle said she is rather sick of achievements and would like to be un-ambitious for the next few days. I agree.

We had been promised good weather for the day and by god did it turn out that way. Blue skies and barely a cloud to be seen. It was cold out but when your walking up and down hills you don’t need too many layers. Today we were going to trek to Laguna Las Torres which is at the foot of the Fitz Roy mountain. First though we had to make our way there. We had two options, to set out on foot to the trail about 500m from the hostel or take a bus to a trail called El Pilar that leads to the same point. The purpose of taking El Pilar was that you go up that trail and come down the other one, so that you are not walking the same trail twice. Our bus journey was thirty minutes to the start of the trek. When we got out the driver said something in Spanish that of course we couldn’t understand. Everyone seemed unsure as to what to do and just stood around waiting for some one to take off. It was like been dropped in the middle of no where and been told to make your way home. We had a general idea but no one was moving. I wasn’t going to wait around for some one to move so myself and Michelle set out towards the trail. People soon started to follow and we were now burdened with being the ones who knew the way. We soldiered on through the forest that followed a small river. There were no signs or markers and many times the trail would branch of in different directions. I had a map which showed the trail following the river so I knew if we stuck to that we would be fine.

We crossed many streams and boggy ground before we came to a wired fence. I don’t know what is wrong with me at the moment but I see things like this as an obstacle, that needs to be overcome. There were two tree stumps either side like a stairs to climb over. Up I went over the fence and down the other side. The last tree trunk decided to give way under the pressure of my foot and I went flying down the other side. As I was falling my motion turned me around and embarrassingly I could see Michelle swing her leg over the fence and easily have one foot either side of it. The steps were not needed at all. Where I saw difficulty she saw simplicity. I put it down to my sense of adventure at the time but it was more stupidity. We did laugh a lot about it. It wasn’t the first time I’ve done something like that and I’m sure it wont be that last. We walked for about 2 hours until we got to the first ‘mirador’ (look out point). The views of the mountains and glaciers were amazing and as people arrived the first words out of their mouths was ‘Wow!’.

After taking it all in we ventured on to the next point called Poincenot. This was a camping ground for people who wanted to enjoy the out doors over night. Along the way we had picked up two more people who had caught up with us. One was a middle aged women from Austria and the other a guy from Buenos Aires. We talked about our cities and how amazing the Chalten mountains were. The guy from BA asked what was the frozen stuff on the ground. I told him it was snow. He picked it up and said it was the first time he saw snow and the first time he held it. I thought this was unusual but then I remembered the sheer size of Argentina. We would be taking a two day bus journey that only covers about a third of the length of the country the next day and kind of puts its size into perspective. Anyway, when we arrived at Poincenot we decided it was time for a small bite to eat and a cup of tea. Tommy, our thermos is putting in some hours these days and our best investment so far. Only problem is that the tea bags are dwindling!

After our small rest it was time to climb Las Tres. A 500m rise over 2.5kms. For those who that makes no sense to, it means a feckin’ steep climb for about an hour and a bit. The early trail was easy and we had climbed about 300m over a few hours. This meant the climb would be even steeper. Soon we started on our upward trek, unsure as to where we were hiking to. The trail is well cut out and marked and not that dangerous but it is certainly tough. At the start you are full of energy and can make it so far without stopping. The trail cuts back from left to right up the mountain like a windy stairs. Every now and again you would stop and people would pass. Soon though you would pass them out as they took a breather. Along the route there was more and more snow. Also streams trickled down the mountain from the melt of the snow. It was starting to get tougher and every now and again I would tell Michelle I could see the top. To which she would tell me in no uncertain terms that she was not stupid and didn’t need to be lied too! The strain of the climb was a much mental as it was physical. It’s hard to keep going with no end in sight. At one point when I thought we were nearly there, some one told us we were only half way there. That is not what we wanted to here. The snow was getting thicker and was now a good few inches deep. Eventually we reached a point of flat ground near the top. The view of the surrounding areas was spectacular and with blue skies it was picture perfect. We trekked the one hundred or so metres to the final climb. It was short but steep and soon we were at the top, over looking the Lagoon and at the foot of Fitz Roy. It was totally worth the hike and words cannot really describe the views. I have plenty of photo’s uploaded so I’ll let them show the beauty of this place. It was definitely time for another feed and cup of tea so we found a snowy rock and laid our jackets down and rested our weary bones. I had forgotten my sunglasses and the sun was blinding off the snow. We sat and admired everything for a while before deciding to make our decent. Although not as hard as going up it was going to be sore on the knees. Add in a few icy parts and it then becomes tough. We eventually made it down unharmed but certainly feeling the effects on our knee’s. The constant twisting, turning and banging of them, left them feeling sore. When we got to the bottom we had run out of water. Luckily you can drink from the streams here so we refilled our bottle with glacier water straight from the source. It was perfectly fine and lovely and refreshing to drink.

Our fun was not over there. We had another 2.5hr trek back to El Chalten. This was mainly flat but our feet were now getting sore. Remember , we had walked about 20km’s at this stage and had another 10km in front of us. Our feet were wet and sweaty too which made it harder. There were a few miradors along the way which provided little interest really as we had seen the mountains from just about every angle already. The final 5km’s was all down hill with a drop of 350m back to El Chalten. This again was tough on the legs as it’s kind of like driving with your brakes on.

At 5:30pm we arrived back in El Chalten physically and mentally wrecked. Our legs were most definitely on auto pilot and guided us back to our hostel without our brains even telling them. We washed and showered and said we would eat at the hostel restaurant as a treat. I had a big juicy steak with two fried eggs and chips. Michelle had the Hamburgessa Completa, which is a hamburger with just about everything you can think of on it. Afterwards we had a typical Argentinean dessert of cheese and some sort of jellified sweet potato. It was nice but weird.

We are now currently on our bus to El Bolson. This is going to take two days but we stop over night at a hostel in some town along the way. We have just noticed that we have forgotten the ham and cheese for our rolls. It is now bread and butter for a few days! We have crackers and some boiled eggs and Tommy is filled to the top so we should be fine. This travelling lark can get tough sometimes!!

In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: Don’t Stop Me Now - Queen



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15th April 2009

Ever so proud!!
wow guys.....thats a fair amount ye'v wlked, maybe a few days rest be good before ye fade away..... :)
16th April 2009

Wow is right- serious walking going on!! That's impressive, Carm is right a few days rest now is defo in order and maybe a few steaks too!! Photos are abso amazing too x x x

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