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:
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.
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:
Buff or similarQuantity: 1 or 2
Woollen hat or similar for cold daysQuantity: 1
UV protection goggles to be used during storms or very cold conditionsQuantity: OPTIONAL
Sunglasses (cat 3 or 4)
With side protection to fit your faceQuantity: 1
Sunscreen and lip balm
30 FPS or moreQuantity: 1
AA or AAA batteries depending on your headtorch. Can be purchased in local store.Quantity: 1 set
Working headtorch and spare batteriesQuantity: 1
Light down jacket
A good snow, rain and windproof jacketQuantity: 1
Synthetic fibre long or short sleeve t-shirtQuantity: 2 long sleeve if possible
Used alone or as part of a layer system for better performanceQuantity: 1
Light trekking pantsQuantity: 1
For snow, sand or scree terrainQuantity: 1 pair
Base layer pants
For very cold days and summit pushQuantity: 1 pair
Goretex or similar pants will be used for high wind or during snow conditionsQuantity: 1
A pair of good waterproof gloves for ice climbing with padded knucklesQuantity: OPTIONAL
Chemical hand warmers for the summit push.Quantity: OPTIONAL
Thick down mittens for summit pushQuantity: 1 pair
Fleece or polartec gloves for every day useQuantity: 1 pair
Sandals or crocs
Sandals or crocs for river crossing or hanging around campQuantity: 1 pair
Waterproof trekking boots, try wearing them before the expeditionQuantity: 1 pair
Good thick trekking socksQuantity: 3 pairs
Thick expedition socks
For summit dayQuantity: 1 pair
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
Normal non-locking carabinerQuantity: 1
A good light alpine harnessQuantity: 1
Crampons with antibott systemQuantity: 1 pair
An inflatable mattress and its repair kitQuantity: 1
Water purifying tables/drops
A reliable way to treat waterQuantity: OPTIONAL
These gels help out on recoveryQuantity: 2
Stuff sacks or bin bags
Helps to keep your stuff dry and organisedQuantity: OPTIONAL
A good down sleepingQuantity: -15C (Comfort temperature)
A decent rucksack with hip belt and rain coverQuantity: At least 75 litres
Personal Hygiene kit
Soap, tooth brus, come, etcQuantity: Kit
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
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 1 litre bottles or similar are great for expeditions! We prefer to not use camelbacks as its hose pipe might freezeQuantity: 2 x 1 litre
Gives you more stability during walk and summit push.Quantity: 1 or pair
|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:
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.
Expedition cost is U$ 1450, contact us to know payment methods:
What is NOT included: