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22 November 2012 / leggypeggy

Battling the winds to Laguna Torre

El Chaltén

Poor John and Janet start up the hill. I’m dawdling.

Super Jong may have done two giant treks in one day in the Fitzroy Range, but Janet, Poor John and I at least managed to do one six-hour expedition.

Soon after breakfast, we headed out of El Chaltén at the foot of the range in southern Argentina. Our destination was Laguna Torre, about 11 kilometres away, which is fed by the Torre Glacier.

As these things happen, the start of the trek was a gravelly, semi-vertical climb that had me cursing Poor John under my breath. Steep and gravelly are my most-hated and terrifying terrains. I know that if I go up, I’ll have to come down, and I’d rather not make that exit on my bum or head first.

Trekking near El Chaltén

View on the trek to Laguna Torre

Poor John, as usual, strolled along with his hands clasped behind his back—a nonchalant pose that is genetic in his family and implies that he’s merely out for a leisurely walk around the block.

Within 30 minutes, the terrain leveled out and we began to see the views that make the struggle worth the effort. It was a clear day, but the wind presented the biggest challenge.

The last 30 minutes we walked into gale force winds that had us struggling to stay on our feet. The last incline was loose gravel, but not at all steep. When we finally reached the lake, we were relieved to find that previous trekkers had built a stone shelter that offered a little bit of protection. Obviously, it must be windy all the time.

Laguna Torre

Sheltering at Laguna Torre

Quite a few people huddled in the shelter and had lunch or just took a break, popping up from time to time to snap a pic. One fellow ventured to the shore, stretched out his arms and leaned into the wind, which held him up.

That was the wind that was at our backs as we descended and it was hair-raising—literally. I saw my shadow in front of me and it looked like an image of Marge Simpson on a bad hair day.

The wind was so strong that we often stood for several minutes, digging our feet into the gravel, clinging to our walking sticks and waiting for a brief lull before taking another step. I was blown off my feet once. We were buffeted almost all the way back, except when we had brief stints in the trees.

Laguna Torre

Almost able to fly in the wind at Laguna Torre

About two-thirds of the way back, we diverted from the path we took up in an effort to avoid the vertical descent I was dreading. Careful what you wish for. Some parts of the second path were better, but some were worse. But it’s a good day if I arrive home without any broken bones.

We took eight hours. I’m slow. I dawdle, daydream, take photos, but I was pleased to see the sign at the bottom that said the one-way duration was four, not three, hours.

About El Chaltén

A little note about El Chaltén. It was created in 1985 as an outpost along the Argentinian–Chilean border.

The weather Is horrible, but the scenery is stunning, so the village has become a tourist destination—and a mecca for mountain climbers. Mount Fitz Roy is known for its sheer faces. Our hostel was full of climbers and trekkers.

The community shuts down in winter—June to September. The server in the bakery said it becomes a ghost town. She, like many other workers in El Chaltén, goes home to Spain around the end of May and enjoys a northern hemisphere summer. Does this mean there are no border issues in the middle of winter?

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4 Comments

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  1. lmo58 / Nov 22 2012 1:32 pm

    These photos are lovely Peggy. Does it get veyr cold with all that snow around? And congratulations for not breaking any bones! You’re on brave woman!

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    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2012 8:06 pm

      It does get cold and now we are going further south — to the end of the world — but through a national park first.

      Like

  2. gail-the-gr8 / Nov 22 2012 6:38 pm

    Hi Hi,
    Oh who would have thunk that my mom (Janet) would befriend someone blogging their trip. I am so ecstatic!! Communication with mom is limited enough… so this is perfect to keep track of the adventure! EXCELLENT!! The trip so far looks awesome and the pics are stunning! Sending much love from a heat wave struck and very sunny South Africa. xxx

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2012 8:06 pm

      Hi Gail — we feel so lucky that your mum joined us on this last leg of the journey. I’ll try to keep you up-to-date without revealing too many secrets. 🙂

      Like

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