Catching the Sunrise on Mt Fitz Roy, El Chalten, Argentina

This post covers day 3 of a 3 day guided trek with Walk Patagonia in El Chalten region,  first in Los Huemules Reserve and then in Los Glaciares National Park.

Today’s hike continues from the Poincenot private campground at the base of Mount Fitz Roy to the Laguna de los Tres viewpoint and back to town.

I woke early to see the sunrise. This was our last and only real chance to see Mount Fitz Roy turn golden with the first rays of the sun. I was out at the viewpoint in front of camp well before sunrise and it looked good, just a few clouds around the peaks.

The sky was still dark blue with the peaks just starting to glisten in the predawn light. Betty, our guide, came by and told me it would be a good sunrise if there weren’t too many clouds in the east.

A few wispy clouds start to turn pink. Then slowly the tops of the towers start to turn. Not a hard line but rather a gradually deepening of the famed pinkish-orange color. The whole range turns and the light slowly slides down the peaks.

Even the dark waters of the stream below reflect the color.

We’re packed up before the 8AM breakfast as we have a long day ahead of us. Grilled bread, honey, butter, jam, eggs and cereal. Whole fruit – bananas and apples – are also available. Strong brewed coffee with powdered milk.

Trail to Laguna de los Tres

At 9:00 we leave our packs at camp at set off for the climb to the viewpoint at Laguna de los Tres at the base of the towers. We were supposed to have done this climb yesterday but with the rain it was postponed until today. Today is beautiful. Amazing blue skies, just a few clouds blow up El Chalten (Mount Fitz Roy) making it look like the volcano for which it was named. Chalten means “smoking mountain” in Tehuelche, an indigenous language.

To reach the Laguna de los Tres trailhead we cut through the free campsite near the base of the peaks. At this time of year the campground is crammed with tents. The view from here is somewhat blocked by the foothills.

Crossing the stream it’s a 1k, 400meter steady steep climb that turns steeper near the top.

The final push is a less steep climb over the moraine to the viewpoint above Laguna de los Tres.

We hang out here for a while enjoying the atmosphere and views and watching the clouds swirl around the peaks before descending to the edge of the lake.

Here we do our artistic shots. Camille and Jessica do Yoga poses. I take out the wide angel lens. With beautiful weather we just take it all in. There are few people at the lake and we have the posing rock nearly to ourselves until we are ready to leave.

Next we head up and to the left for the viewpoint above Laguna Sucia.

A hill separates the two lakes at the base of the peaks. We hear an avalanche or two and see the dust of one. The day trippers start to arrive and we head back down. We still have a long way to go.

On the trail down is a steady line of people coming up. So glad we came up when we did.

Back at camp we eat one of our sandwiches (It will be a two sandwich day) and pack up quickly. If we want to go to go Laguna Torre to see the glacier of the same name, we are running out of time.

Trail Back to El Chalten

We head out toward the three lakes; Madre, Hija and Nieta (Mother, Daughter and Grand Daughter). Most of the way is Patagonia flat and runs in the trees above the lakes. Pretty green or blue color depending on the light and which direction you look. Views of Mount Fitz Roy behind us.

There’s a beach near the end of the lakes and some boys are disrobing getting ready for a swim.

The way winds through the forest and more open sections before starting a steep descent through a forest.

Once we are back out in the open we are at the first of two view points for the Torre Glacier. The view is into the sun so I can’t say this is the most impressive view.

We skip the viewpoint at Laguna Torre as it would add 2 hours to our day. Since we did the Laguna de los Tres this morning instead of yesterday afternoon due to rain, we are short on time. Continuing back towards town the trail heads down a valley, patagonia flat with views behind us of the glacier and snowy peaks.

The second viewpoint, Mirador del Cerro Torre, is more impressive but again we are facing into the sun at this time of day. As this is the destination of one of the day hikes from town there are more people on this section of the trail.

Although we lose the views of the snowy peaks and glaciers behind us we add an impressive canyon with a river at the bottom.

It’s a pretty walk and would make a great day hike if I weren’t so tired.

Finally back in town just after 5PM, we run a few errands before the shuttle picks us up at the office of Walk Patagonia at 7PM.

The shuttle, a shared van, takes about 3 hours and we arrive at our hotel, Kosten Aike, in El Calafate at 10PM.

February 25, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the Hiking in Patagonia page.

3 thoughts

  1. Your photos of this amazing hike are awesome! This is one of my fave hikes I’ve ever done, I never get sick of looking at photos from here!

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