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Nov 6, 2011
|Hola Amigos!! What an exciting few days I have had!
How many of you googled Fitz Roy mountain? Is it not the most amazing?? Imagine waking up to it every morning you lived in El Chalten. The guides in El Chalten have the best office ever.
I have fallen in love with El Chalten. It is 26 years old and very quirky and small. They have satellite TV and internet but will not allow cell phones. It is crazy!! We stayed at the nicest little hotel where the breakfast table was laid for us each morning. It was such a nice change from staying at a more corporate managed style hotel. The people are very friendly even though they do not speak English and us not speak Spanish. We found a way to get our message across to each other.
On our first full day in El Chalten we hiked up to Lago de Los Tres on Cerrro Monte Fitz Roy. It was a grand hike where we took a transfer to Hosteria El Pilar (if you are thinking I memorized this you will be sorely disappointed to know I have my El Chalten map opened up next to me in bed to assist me with this). From there we hiked in to Cerro Fitz Roy passing by Glacier Blanc. It had some great cracks of thunder whilst we were there. Glaciers are a feast for the eyes and the ears, but more on glaciers later in this post. The hike was very benign in terms of strenuous work until we reached Fitz Roy and had to hike up approximately 1100 metres (one hour) up to Lago de Los Tres. The reward was well worth the effort and it was a great way to spend a Friday afternoon huddled into a rock enjoying the scenery below. We were very fortunate the wind velocity was well down by El Chalten standards and the clouds left the Fitz Roy peak. You know for being an individual that is not overly fond of the outdoors I am having such an amazing time with hiking up mountains. There are very few bugs here which is a big plus for me. After we descended Fitz Roy we had a 12 K hike back to El Chalten during which time I saw the largest woodpecker ever. I have photos and everything. The group was about 5 minutes ahead of Cecelia (our CEO (chief experience officer)) and I before Horatio (our hiking guide) (confused yet?) came back in search of us!! After we returned to town we went to the local micro brewery for a pint and empanada and then stopped by the agency to book onto the Glacier Viedma ice walk. That night we went out for a great dinner and celebrated our successes and excitedly chatted about our upcoming adventure on the glacier.
After a great night’s sleep it was off to Glacier Viedma. This started with walking over to the agency for our bus ride from El Chalten to the “harbour” at Lago Viedma (yes I am still looking at that map!!) for our boat to the glacier. It took about 20 minutes to get to the habour and then 40 minutes to sail (or should I say motor?) to Glacier Viedma. Horatio (our guide from the prior day was with us) and I was somewhat excited that he may be our guide. Once you build a familiarity with a guide it is nice to get to trek with them a second day. Unfortunately he was guiding the ice climbers, and our guide (Gisella and Facundo) were awesome. We were a group of 5 - us G Adventures lot plus Sean who hails from Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. Sean is working on his Spanish. He wants to pursue his MBA in Strategic Management, but it requires he be fluent in 3 languages. He is half way into his 6 month stay in Argentina, and seems to have a good command of the language. He found us welcome relief from the struggle of having to express himself in a foreign language. I found my calling … glacier hiking. I felt so at home walking on the glaciers with my crampons on my boots. I was leaping over extremely shallow crevaces. I was so much more confident on the ice than on the rocky mountain. Do you think all my time spent on skates and skis had something to do with that? Glaciers are the most amazing thing ever. I had no real concept of the vastness of a glacier until I hiked on one. The views in the crevaces were amazing. And the shades of blue. OMG. As a surprise Gisella and Facundo treated us to Baileys on Viedma ice chips. It was such a great touch to an amazing time. It was hard to leave the glacier, but all good things must happen in moderation or else the heart does not stay hungry right????? Right?? That was not a rhetorical question.
After we returned back to El Chalten we changed out of our “stinky hiking clothes” (trust me we are starting to get quite ripe) and readied ourselves for our bus trip back to El Calafate. We spent the afternoon watching a documentary on the Condorre (amazing birds they are) and then went to the Micro Brewery for a pint and empanada. You must be so proud of my Dad as I hoist pints and enjoy Malbecs almost daily! The bus ride to El Calafate was uneventful and we arrived at our hotel at around 2100 hrs.
We (Alison and I) were giddy at the thought of getting to sleep in until 0700 hours and settled ourselves into our room. This would have to be the nicest corporate hotel we have stayed at so far. The breakfasts are amazing at this hotel. Breakfasts are an interesting experience here. The offering is continental and generally includes croissants, white and brown bread, drinkable yogurt, corn flakes, sugar corn flakes, and baked sweets. Oh yet, and the obligatory ham and cheese … Italy is all about mozza and tomato … Argentina is all about jambon y quesos. It is at breakfast and lunch. Crazy madness it is. Anyway today’s breakfast had in-house baked fresh brown bread and peach marmalade. Such a treat. I so miss my almond butter and bananas. Bananas just aren’t a popular breakfast fruit here.
The group’s excursion was to Perito Moreno Glacier. It is the only glacier Argentina that is in equilibrium … it is not shrinking (receding) or growing. It just maintains it size of 5 K wide and 20 K long. Wow!! What an amazing sight. We spend the better part of the day there complete with a boat trip that brought us 500 M from the glacier. It is huge!!! I was able to use my new 500m lens, which is huge too. Big situations require big solutions. I hope the photos look as good once downloaded to my computer as they do on my camera. That was today’s biggest lesson. Taking photos in the “RAW” (my SLR photographer friends will understand that term) means big files. I have used up 1 16GB memory card already!! So I have changed the SLR back to “L” and am desperate to purchase a couple of back-up memory cards just in case!! I really enjoyed the glacier and really wished we could have walked on it. It did give us a good show and today I learned that glaciers can calve from underwater as well as above. What a sight it was to see a hunk of ice bob up from under the water. There were great cracks of thunder from the glacier (not as good as Cerro Tronodor mind you), but it definitely kept us on our toes that there would be a big show. Unfortunately that was not the case. The glacier is due for a rupture soon which happens after it dams the water on the Lago Argentina and the water in return eats a tunnel through the ice. The last rapture shut the entire town of El Calafate down as they all had to be part of the excitement. Unfortunately the glacier is headed towards rapture, but it is not going to happen for a few months/years. What a sight that would have been to have seen!!!
We strolled about the town tonight and then had a great dinner to celebrate our holiday so far. That meant ice cream.
Well I must sign off here … it is midnight and Alison says it is time for lights out. Will resume this blog tomorrow.
Love to you all and Maisie