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Hiking in The Southern Ice Field, Patagonia

  • Expedition to the Southern Ice Field
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Program: Expedition to the Southern Ice Field

  • Length: 13 Days
  • Activity Level: Strenuous Hike
  • Activity: Ice Hiking, Trekking

Highlights: Continental Southern Ice Field, The Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Valle del Electrico,Cordon Gorra Blanca, Paso de los Vientos

The Patagonian Southern Ice Field is the third largest ice mass in the world, after Antarctica and Greenland. It is a humongous plateau that is always covered in snow; located at an average altitude of 1500masl. It is crossed by the Cordillera of the Andes from north to south. It is shared by both Chile and Argentina.
This expedition is a 90km trek circling Mounts Fitz Roy and Torre. It is without a doubt one of the most exciting treks in the world.

Throughout the expedition you will hike across mountains, through pampas and forests, and beside glaciers and lakes. You will be able to enjoy the peacefulness of being a bit off the beaten track.

Overview

  • Day 1: El Calafate Airport - El Calafate
  • Day 2: Perito Moreno Glacier - El Calafate
  • Day 3: El Calafate - El Chalten
  • Day 4: El Chalten - Electrico Valley “La Playita”
  • Day 5: La playita camp - Ascent to Marconi Pass
  • Day 6: Marconi Pass Camp - Circo de Los Altares
  • Day 7: Circo de Los Altares - Paso del Viento
  • Day 8: Paso del Viento - Laguna Toro Camp
  • Day 9: Laguna Toro Camp - Chalten
  • Day 10: Reserve day
  • Day 11: Reserve day
  • Day 12: Chalten - El Calafate
  • Day 13: El Calafate - El Calafate Airport

Expedition to the Southern Ice Field, Patagonia

  • Length: 13 Days
  • Activity Level: Experienced

Day 1: El Calafate Airport - El Calafate
You will be greeted in the El Calafate airport (FTE) and taken directly to the city. The drive is approximately 30 minutes through the Patagonian Pampas. You will be taken to your accomodation and have some time to freshen up. After a bit of a rest or some time exploring the town, you will meet again with your guide for dinner.

Day 2: Perito Moreno Glacier - El Calafate
After a nice breakfast you will board a van heading towards Perito Moreno Lookout. As you arrrive at the lookout you will be able to orient yourself in front of the enormous ice wall. During the summer the glacier often calves and if you are lucky you will be able to observe this while at the glacier. You will also take a short cruise in front of the glacier in order to get a closer look.  In the evening you will return to the city, have dinner, and spend the night.

Day 3: El Calafate - El Chalten
Today you will wake early and prepare for the first bus to El Chalten. The trip is approximately three hours by bus and you will arrive before lunch. After arriving in the small town you will get aquainted with your new accomodation and then you and your guide will leave for lunch. Meet the Mountain Guide to go through equipment and final checks of the programm. The rest of the afternoon will be for exploration of the city.

Day 4: Transfer to the departure point for the expedition – the Eléctrico River Bridge (15 Km from El Chaltén). Trek for 2 hours through a thick forest of lengas until reaching Piedra del Fraile camp ground (private). After a short break, the trek continues along the old glacial valley of the Eléctrico River and then we cross the Pollone River. Having traversed various different rocky terrains over a 3 hour period we arrive at the camp of “La Playita” (the little beach), on the northern edge of the Eléctrico Lake.

Day 5: Ascent to Paso (Pass) Marconi (1550masl), the port of entry to the Continental Ice Field. To cross the glacier we will use crampons and depending on the weather conditions we may also use snow shoes and equipment to ensure a high level of security. This is an important day of the expedition as we do need good weather to be able to reach the Pass. We set camp up at Campamento “Paso Marconi” at the spot where the ice suddenly becomes flat! A fantastic location for great views of the Mounts Fitz Roy, Pier Giorgio and Gorra Blanca. About 8-9 hours of trekking. Elevation change of about 800 metres.

Day 6: Trek to Campamento “Circo de Los Altares” (Circle of the Altars) (1350 masl) with the possibility of getting close to the West face of the mythical Mount Torre and the fabulous Fitz Roy. This has to be one of the most impressive views within the National Park Los Glaciares. 5 to 6 hours of walking.

Day 7: Walk in a southerly direction passing by the Laguna de Los Esquíes and then turn due east either to Laguna Ferrari or to Refugio Paso del Viento, to set up camp for the night (where we go depends on the group and weather conditions). Walking today will be on a rocky terrain on the lateral moraine of Viedma Glacier. Walking about 7 to 8 hours.

Day 8: Today we climb up to Paso del Viento (Windy Pass) (1550 masl), and then descend the valley of the Túnel River until we reach Laguna Toro. This is an excellent spot for a panoramic view of the Mariano Moreno range and Viedma glacier. The terrain will be rocky, crossing various moraines and part of Túnel glacier. We will also have to cross Túnel River by a Tyrolean rope. About 6 to 8 hours of trekking. Last camp of the expedition at ¨Laguna Toro¨.

Day 9: Trek to El Chaltén along the Túnel River Valley, passing the western slopes of Mount Pliegue Tumbado, which offers one of the best views of the valley of the Fitz Roy River and the valley of Mount Torre. We will walk across exposed areas, prairies and through forests areas. Approximately 6hours walking.

Day 10 - 11 : Reserve days in case of bad weather conditions.

Day 12: El Chalten - El Calafate
You will board the 6pm bus and head back to El Calafate to spend the night. You will arrive in El Calafate in time for a late dinner and a good night´s rest.

Day 13: El Calafate - El Calafate Airport
Today you will take a transfer back to the El Calafate airport. You will say goodbye to our staff and continue your journey home or to your next destination!

Below is a suggested packing list:

  • Upper body:
  • Shirts/Jacket
  • Wind proof and water proof jacket, such as Gore Tex or similar
  • Fleece or pile coat
  • Quick dry long sleeve t-shirt
  • Quick dry or cotton short sleeve t-shirt
  • Winter hat
  • Light gloves
  • Lower body:
  • Quick dry hiking socks
  • Quick dry, light weight long underwear bottoms
  • Quick dry and breathable windproof pants
  • Shorts
  • Light trekking boots and/or gym shoes
  • Other necessary items:
  • Pajamas
  • Sleeping bag (-5°C for Nov. – Mar. trips, -15°C for April – Oct. trips)
  • Toiletries
  • Water bottle (1.000cc)
  • Sun glasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chap Stick with sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Backpack (big enough for all your personal things)
  • Shower Shoes
  • Earplugs
  • Head lamp and/or flashlight
  • Camera

Dittmar Adventures gear:

  • Four Season Tents
  • MSR Asgard, 3-man tent
  • MSR Fury, 2-man tent
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Thermarest Prolite 4
  • Thermarest Prolite plus
  • Base Camp Tents
  • Mountain Hardwear Space Station
  • MSR Board Room
  • Cooking gear
  • MSR Whisperlite international
  • MSR Base pot set
  • GSI Tableware
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