Friday, December 28, 2007
Fitz Roy or bust!
At 7 AM we began the hike from the cabaña to the base of Fitz Roy. Its only 12km to the camp, and we had no trouble getting there. We have a filter so there’s no need to carry a lot of water in this area with its numerous lakes and streams. Actually, we didn’t even need the filter (except to remove some silt) since the water is less than a mile from a pristine glacier and quite potable. It was quite possibly the best tasting water we’ve ever experienced.
Camp was set among many other travelers from across the globe (French, Italian, German, Dutch, English, Hebrew, Spanish was overheard), a short nap and then another hike, out of boredom. It’s amazing how many days fit into 24 hours when the daylight last 18 hours! We headed out to explore, do some bouldering and find the trailhead that leads further up the mountain for the next day’s adventure.
The hiking was spectacular. The winds are always fierce; blowing all along the hike up to 50 mph in gusts that could make you skips a few steps – which is fun when you’re crossing a tiny log bridge. Thankfully, the camp is set up under some trees. Whenever you want water, you simply need to scoop it out of a nearby stream. The lakes and smaller lagunas are bluer than sky from the pure water and fine silt from the glacier melt. The camp was good, although the latrine was overused. The camp hosts were giant “caracara” falcons common to the area.
At 4:30 AM the next morning, we left camp, taking just one daypack to hike above the tree line into the snow and glacier zone. The trail is steep, rising 500 meters in only 2 km. I explored the area while Hanmi waited for good photos of sunrise and few clouds. There was only one other person around, although there’s evidence at the climber hut of several parties attacking the summit.
We didn’t see anyone else until the hike down to our own base camp, when many of the “early hikers” were panting up the trail, asking about how much further. Not far is the best answer one can give.
After a quick nap we packed and hiked back out, down to the town again (about 3 hours) to pick up the car and find a place to eat and sleep. The routine repeats and we end up in some fairly nice rooms, although a bit musty. It seems common in Patagonia for the rooms to be built to withstand the incessant winds, but suffer from a lack of ventilation at the same time. The windows open and the entire room’s air in exchanged in about 3 seconds, but the musty backdrop is always around due to the season when the room stays dormant for months.
After hiking so much (about 25km) we treated ourselves to a big meal of grilled steaks, with lots of beer. Sleep came quickly and before we knew what hit us, it was morning again.