Southern Patagonian Ice Field Circle and Gorra Blanca - 14 days

About

Southern Patagonian Ice Field Circle and Gorra Blanca - December until February

Southern Patagonian Ice Field (or Campo de Hielo Sur in Spanish) is the world’s second largest contiguous extrapolar ice field. It stretches for over 350 kilometers over the Argentine-Chilean border and offers tons of great adventures. From extreme alpine climbing to ski touring, this giant ice cap feeds a wide variety of glaciers in two countries. Some of the mountains located at the edge of the ice field provide some of the greatest climbs known to men. In our itinerary, we decided to join a breathtaking trekking adventure to a great alpine climb.

Requirements to join this expedition are:

  • International Travel Insurance;
  • Aged between 18 and 70 years old;
  • Being able to carry a 20kg backpack;
  • Multi-day trekking experience;
  • Be healthy and fit enough;
  • Fill the booking and medical form;
  • Read all the information available on this website.

Itinerary

Southern Patagonian Ice Field Circle and Gorra Blanca - 14 days

 

Day 1 – Arrival to Chalten – 3 hours

We will drive you from Calafate to Chalten. This will take about 3 hours. Chalten will be our base where we start and end the trip. This little town only has a few thousand people and has great views of great peaks like Fitz Roy. Time to walk around and try typical Argentinean food.

Day 2 – Preparations at Chalten

In the morning, our guides will give a talk about all rules, itinerary and everything that is happening on the expedition. You will know that our journey about 90km long and that our backpacks will weight at least 20 kg. Also, you will know that we’ll walk in forests, lakes, glacier moraines, ice, snow. This is a ‘four season in the day’ expedition. Our guides will also check your equipment.

Day 3 – Chaltén – Playita Camp – 6 hours – 12km

A short drive brings us to the start point. Two hours of forest walking, 3 hour treks through very different landscapes and a pretty amazing river cross, we get to our destination by the side of a river. This small sandy beach (‘playita’ in Spanish), has breathtaking views of Fitz Roy and its surrounding rock towers.

Day 4 – Playita camp – Gorra Blanca Hut – 8 hours – 12km

After a 9 am start, we begin our day with the ascent of Marconi Pass, first along a small lake then walking over a glacier. This is the fun part! At lunch, we reach the more technical part of our day. Using ropes for safety, we have some scramble and easy rock climbs. Our team will be roped up in order to secure crevasse falls. Eventually, crevasses disappear and the pass opens up to the immense Southern Patagonian Ice Field. After a few hours, we reach Gorra Blanca Hut, located at the Chilean side of the border.

Day 5 – Climbing Gorra Blanca 2860m – 5 hours

Again, 9 am start. This time we’ll travel fast and light taking advantage of the hard snow in the morning, therefore, be moving quickly to ascend the 2860m peak. We’ll enjoy the best view of the ice field. The climb will have a few switchbacks and some snow ramps. If weather allows we get to see a 360-degree view and witness one of the most amazing scenarios in Patagonia. From there we should see the Lautaro, an active 3600m volcano and highest in the area. Also, we should be able to see some fjords on the Pacific coast of Chile. This is one of the wettest areas in the world. Of course, we’ll admire the west walls of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy which cannot be described in words. Our night is in the same hut.

Day 6 – Gorra Blanca Hut – Circo de los Altares – 5 hours – 10km

Walking on flat terrain, today our camp will be on the ice field. To shield from the wind we’ll build an ice wall using ice/snow bricks that we’ll cut using a saw.

Day 7 – Rest day

A well deserved rest today. Just for fun, we will visit “Circo de los altares” which are ice and rock formations made of hanging glaciers and rock towers. They give an impression of being in a magical place.

Day 8 – Circo de los Altares – Paso del Viento Hut – 8 hours – 20km

We’ll continue heading south and after a few hours on the glacier, we should come out of it. Crossing chaotic moraines and a series of small lakes we get to see the next sleeping spot by a lake.

Day 9 – Paso del Viento Hut – Laguna Toro – 6 hours – 8km

Today we’ll ascent to Paso del Viento (Windy Pass), which you can imagine how it might be. This will be out last view of the massive continental ice terrain. We’ll then descend to Laguna Toro full of hanging nearby glaciers. To spice up our day, we’ll have to cross Toro river hanging on ropes. Our night will be in a nice calm forest.

Day 10 – Laguna Toro – Chalten – 6 hours – 15km

With great views of Mount Huemul and Viedma lake, we’ll keep going through the forest and take a steep descent to reach Chaltén. Shower, good food are now allowed and deserved.

Day 11 – Chalten

Blisters, sunburns, peace, satisfaction and happiness. This is what today is about.

Day 12 – Chalten – Calafate – 3 hours

Day 13 – Extra Day in case of bad weather

** The above itinerary is subject to change due weather conditions, performance of the group, political/administrative problems and any other events not described.

** Weather in Patagonia is known for being a complete mess. It is very changeable and despite having modern day forecast systems, local conditions can be unpredictable. This means that the original plan might and probably will be changed. Expect spending day(s) in a tent waiting for good weather, or maybe merging 2 days into 1.

Equipment

Having good mountaineering equipment is one of the key points to have a successful expedition. Please note all your personal equipment will be checked by one of our guides in the hotel. There are good shops for renting or buying equipment in Chalten, this is what you need:

Head
  • equipamento buff

    Bandana

    Buff or similar

    Quantity: 1 or 2
  • gorro neblina cinza copia

    Hat

    Woollen hat or similar for cold days

    Quantity: 1
  • xNxgoggles

    Ski goggles

    UV protection goggles to be used during storms or very cold conditions

    Quantity: OPTIONAL
  • xNxExplorer noir vert J

    Sunglasses (cat 3 or 4)

    With side protection to fit your face

    Quantity: 1
  • GG

    Sunscreen and lip balm

    30 FPS or more

    Quantity: 1
  • batteries

    Batteries

    AA or AAA batteries depending on your headtorch. Can be purchased in local store.

    Quantity: 1 set
  • xNxlanterna

    Headtorch

    Working headtorch and spare batteries

    Quantity: 1
Torso
  • Light down jacket

  • jaqueta

    Snowproof jacket

    A good snow, rain and windproof jacket

    Quantity: 1
  • camiseta dry

    T-shirt

    Synthetic fibre long or short sleeve t-shirt

    Quantity: 2 long sleeve if possible
  • fleece

    Fleece jacket

    Used alone or as part of a layer system for better performance

    Quantity: 1
Legs
  • Caláa de Trekking

    Trekking pants

    Light trekking pants

    Quantity: 1
  • Polainas

    Gaiters

    For snow, sand or scree terrain

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • caláa segunda pele

    Base layer pants

    For very cold days and summit push

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • Caláa anorak

    Snowproof pants

    Goretex or similar pants will be used for high wind or during snow conditions

    Quantity: 1
Hands
  • Waterproof gloves

    A pair of good waterproof gloves for ice climbing with padded knuckles

    Quantity: OPTIONAL
  • Screen Shot    at

    Hand warmers

    Chemical hand warmers for the summit push.

    Quantity: OPTIONAL
  • Miton

    Mittens

    Thick down mittens for summit push

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • Luvas segunda camada

    Gloves

    Fleece or polartec gloves for every day use

    Quantity: 1 pair
Feet
  • crocs

    Sandals or crocs

    Sandals or crocs for river crossing or hanging around camp

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • bota

    Trekking boots

    Waterproof trekking boots, try wearing them before the expedition

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • Meias de trekking

    Trekking socks

    Good thick trekking socks

    Quantity: 3 pairs
  • thicksocks

    Thick expedition socks

    For summit day

    Quantity: 1 pair
  • boots

    Double boots

    A pair of double or double plastic boots such as Koflach Exped, Koflach Vertical, Asolo Ottomilla, Asolo AFS, Trezetta, Scarpa Vega, Scarpa Inferno, La Sportiva Baruntse, Olympus Mons, La Sportiva Spantik, Scarpa Phantom.

    Single layer boots such as La Sportiva Nepal XT, EVO, Batura or Boreal Latok, ARE NOT SUITABLE.

    Quantity: 1 pair
Technical equipment
  • biner

    Carabiner

    Normal non-locking carabiner

    Quantity: 1
  • screw biner

    Locking carabiner

    Quantity: 1
  • Harness

    A good light alpine harness

    Quantity: 1
  • crampon

    Crampons

    Crampons with antibott system

    Quantity: 1 pair
Other Equipment
  • matt

    Inflatable matress

    An inflatable mattress and its repair kit

    Quantity: 1
  • tabs

    Water purifying tables/drops

    A reliable way to treat water

    Quantity: OPTIONAL
  • gel

    Carbo gels

    These gels help out on recovery

    Quantity: 2
  • estanque

    Stuff sacks or bin bags

    Helps to keep your stuff dry and organised

    Quantity: OPTIONAL
  • Saco de dormir

    Sleeping Bag

    A good down sleeping

    Quantity: -15C (Comfort temperature)
  • Rucksack

    A decent rucksack with hip belt and rain cover

    Quantity: At least 75 litres
  • kit

    Personal Hygiene kit

    Soap, tooth brus, come, etc

    Quantity: Kit
  • Isolante tÇrmico

    Sleeping mattress

    We prefer taking 2 foam sleeping mattress because of sharp rocks. If you have an inflatable mattress you should also bring a foam mattress to protect the inflatable one against sharp rocks. Don’t forget bringing a repair kit if you have an inflatable mattress.

    Quantity: 2 or inflatable
  • flask

    1 litre thermos

    Metallic good quality 1 litre thermos for the summit push. You must have one. Please do not bring smaller ones.

    Quantity: 1
  • nalgene

    Water bottle

    Nalgene 1 litre bottles or similar are great for expeditions! We prefer to not use camelbacks as its hose pipe might freeze

    Quantity: 2 x 1 litre
  • Bast∆o de caminhada

    Trekking poles

    Gives you more stability during walk and summit push.

    Quantity: 1 or pair

FAQ

View our photos of Gabriel Rocamora:

Gabriel Rocamora

High altitude mountain guide and rock climbing guide

Language skills:

English - near native speaker
Spanish - native speaker

Gabriel is an extremely relaxed guy who guides for over 15 years and has summited giants like Aconcagua and Fitz Roy a bunch of times! He is our local specialist at the Argentine Patagonia. Guiding treks, glaciers walks, polar traverses, classic climbs, high altitude expeditions or anything that has mountains on it, Gabriel shares his time between Central Andes and Patagonia. Apart from being a professional mountain guide, he’s also a very skilled skier. Gabriel has worked as ski patrol for several years. He now lives at Arenales, a huge paradise of trad and alpine climbing just a few hours away from Mendoza in Argentina.

Gabriel Rocamora looks and sounds very humble when he talks about his experience. Don’t be mistaken, the man is a beast:

  • Professional high altitude mountain guide for over 15 years
  • 27 summits on Aconcagua
  • 4 summits on Fitz Roy by different routes
  • Huascarán, Alpamayo and many others in Peru
  • Several climbs and new ascents at Fitz Roy’s neighbours like Egger, Desmochada, etc
  • Ice climbing guide at Chaltén
  • Alpine rock climbing guide at Arenales
  • Several rock lines at Yosemite NP (El Capitan, Diamond, Devil’s Tower, etc)
  • Ski patrol and rescuer
  • Physical Education Teacher

Beyond his titles and achievements, Gabriel’s philosophy about guiding is to put all his energy into it making people feel an unique and enjoyable experience.

Map

Cost

Expedition cost is U$ 1450, contact us to know payment methods:

What’s included:

  • Leadership of Gabriel Rocamora, EPGAMT certified High Altitude Mountain guide;
  • 1 or 2 assistant mountain guides (EPGAMT/AAGM certification) depending upon number or clients (client per guide ratio = 1 main guide + 1 assistant for every 3 clients);
  • Assistance on renting or purchasing equipment in Chalten;
  • Transport Chalten > Calafate > Chalten;
  • Transport Chalten > Rio Electrico;
  • Guide will carry a GPS, SatPhone and VHF for emergencies;
  • Use of all mountain huts;
  • Use of tents;
  • Use of medical kit;
  • Use of ropes and anchors;
  • Porters for group gear (tents, pots, etc)
  • Stoves and gas in all camps;
  • All meals out of Chalten;
  • Bureaucratic permissions (if necessary).

What is NOT included:

  • Flights from/to Calafate;
  • Personal porters – (it is possible to hire porters, let us know in advance);
  • Personal equipment (check equipment tab);
  • Money return in case you abandon the expedition;
  • International travel insurance;
  • Lunch and dinner in Chalten;
  • Reimbursement for loss or damage of your personal equipment.

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