Patagonia series | To the end of the world and back | episode 15 — Day 13 | El Chaltén – The Painful 28km Hike!

Yes, that’s right! One word to describe our day today is just like the title – Painful. We achieved 28 km hiking which was about 41,000 steps.

We got up 8am to ensure we don’t miss the 9am shuttle bus pickup to Hostaría El Pilar. The shuttle ride was pretty fast (was only 15 minutes). There were approx 9 of us who are going to start trekking from Hostería El Pilar. We all started same time but the walking pace is so different. The trail marks needed a little maintenance as some part of the routes were not clearly marked. We saw a guy went off the route completely (I was worried about him until I saw him again who was easily double the speed of ours.)

Day12-14 El Chalten (64)

The landscape along the river side was spectacular. The weather was pleasant with patches of blue sky and we were able to see some mountain peaks.

Day12-14 El Chalten (76)

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Our first view point was Piedra del Fraile where we could overlook the glacier from a distance. Of course, it’s nowhere near the impact we had when we were in Perito Monero National Park. We sat in front of the viewpoint and had our breakfast.

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Day12-14 El Chalten (118)

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Day12-14 El Chalten (134)

Day12-14 El Chalten (152)

Day12-14 El Chalten (153)

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We continued walking towards Laguna de Los Tres. The climb to Laguna de Los Tres was very challenging if you are not an experienced hiker. There were are no proper stairs or roads, the way leading upward was basically loose stones and mud with the odd stream/puddle. There were plenty of  people climbing so you probably wouldn’t feel lonely or feel scared. Our climbing pace was clearly indicated by a couple that don’t do enough exercise at all in life. We had to make stops almost every 5 minutes. As we are still climbing up the mountain, we saw the people on the same bus this morning have made their way back… How could it be possible?!!

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Day12-14 El Chalten (193)

Day12-14 El Chalten (222)

Day12-14 El Chalten (228)

We spent 2 hours to climb up the mountain and 1.5 hours to get back down. On the way up, it seemed like endless rock climbing and we had to ask several other hikers to assure us the view up the peak is worth going. When we eventually got up the top, I must say the view was spectacular, it was totally worth the effort of climbing up for 2 hours.

Day12-14 El Chalten (242)

Day12-14 El Chalten (254)

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Day12-14 El Chalten (358)

Laguna de Los Tres is relatively small place to explore. Unfortunately we were unable to see the Fitz Roy peak due to heavy clouds. We did enjoy the peace in such a location and be surrounded by glacier and mountain peaks. The water looked so pure and clear.

We spent another hour just to make sure we didn’t miss anything. A piece of dark cloud fast approached us as we were leaving the place, and within a few seconds it started snow with rain. The snow storm came so fast and there was nowhere to hide on the mountainside. We had to walk against the strong wind and sleet.

Day12-14 El Chalten (365)

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As we were descending to the bottom of the mountain, snow became sleet and the became rain. There are 3 big tunnel of wind and unfortunately the way between Laguna de Los Tres to Laguna Capri, some part of the walking path is right in the middle of the wind tunnel, the rain was literally horizontal.

The weather had cleared up a little when we approached Laguna Capri, some part of the sky was really blue. We stopped and took some pictures.

Day12-14 El Chalten (389)

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It’s about 4km distance from Laguna Capri to El Chaltén town, only descending. Along the way, there were some view points to take pictures. The walk after Laguna Capri has become harder and harder, mainly is because of my knee started to hurt. If you are not a regular hiker, then break your journey in 2 days and don’t listen to anyone — “the hike is only 7-8 hours.”

Day12-14 El Chalten (433)

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We arrived in town, tired! Very tired! Exhausted in fact! We decided not to do anything and changed our bus ticket for returning El Calafate in the afternoon.

Next: Patagonia series | To the end of the world and back | episode 16 — Day 14 | A chilled day, cycling around El Calafate

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