The Cerro Negro trek takes you to a peak above Villa Traful (North of Nahuel Huapi national park in Patagonia, Argentina). With perfect weather and the sight of the rocky peak too much to resist, we set off on the steep path.
In April the sun is fairly low in the sky creating a magical light, and the colours of the trees have turned into yellows and flaming reds. The town has emptied from the high season leaving behind the core of a few hundred residents, one or two tiny shops, and a restaurant or two. We had the route to ourselves. Continue reading “Lost and found in Patagonia”→
“Chalten”, a word from the old Patagonian language meaning “smoky mountain”, is used interchangeably for the town and the mountain that dominates the skyline. The formal name for the mountain is Fitz Roy, after the Captain of the Beagle who chartered much of the wild coastline with a young Darwin on board.
Early on in the route, baby on back, feeling fres
I’ve enjoyed climbing for a number of years. At first, I wanted to progress and challenge myself but absence of time combined with self-inflicted injury frustrated my progress. At this point, climbing changed for me and became more mellow and spiritual – a perfect antidote for many hours in the office.
The site of rock still creates a reaction for me; an awareness and respect for the physical and mental strength of those that venture into the domain of the mountains, and respect for the mountain itself which one moment can be basked in sunshine but the next could be throwing gale-force winds at rain at you.
Cerro Fitz Roy is awe-inspiring, rising into the clouds in which it is often shrouded. This is a place of legends.
The hike to the lake “Laguna de Los Tres” takes you to towards the foot of the mountain and is the most popular in the area and the goal of many who visit. Our challenge was whether we could do this with a 9-month-old baby and a wife who fractured her fifth metatarsal only 4 weeks ago.
Some online reviews rave about the merits of the best restaurant in town when they’ve spent a handful of days and tried only a handful of places, so as a caveat to the title of this piece: I’ve not done that many trail-runs and have not previously owned trail shoes.
Before leaving London I bought a pair of Saucony shoes from the lovely staff “Run and Become”. The shoes have been a revelation for me, taking in sand, mud and even a little rock scrambling with ease.
Their first proper outing was a 20km run starting 16km north of Chalten leading up to a mountain lake called Lago Electrico.
Running can clear the mind and cleanse the body. Just occasionally something more magical happens and you transcend where you are, and for that brief time you are connected to something much greater. It is as if you found your natural state, running almost sub-consciously.
I’m sitting in a small apartment in El Chalten. For the uninitiated (including me just a month ago) we are 49° South in Patagonia, close to the vast ice fields that remain from the last glacial period.
The first adventure is a ten-week trip through Argentina and Chile with my wife Masha and 9-month-old baby Bertrand. A combination of events meant I could take some time off work, and with the firm belief that the main regrets in life come from not taking opportunities to expand horizons we rapidly scrambled together a half-baked plan mainly based around the most interesting place accumulated British Airways Avios/Amex card rewards could get us in comfort for free: surely the basis for a successful trip if there ever was one.