February 13, 2004

Argentina flagUp early again this morning, at 6:30 am, but only to photograph sunrise on Cerro Torre. This just required the short walk up to the laguna. The weather was still clear except for a small cloud on the glacier below the tower, so the sun rising on the mountains plus the reflection made a nice picture. We took our photographs and then went back to the tent to catch some more sleep.

When we awoke again, it was 9:30 am and the sky was completely overcast. Cerro Torre was behind clouds! Oh well, at least we had seen it. We packed up and had breakfast. Since we only had a short hike planned, we didn’t have to rush off. So we watched the parrots for a while, and this time we managed to get several pictures of them.

Today our plan was to hike back down the way we had come up, and then to take the crossover trail leading to the other path up from El Chaltén, the one up to Campamento Poincenot near Monte FitzRoy. We were on the trail by 11:10 am, expecting about three hours of hiking.

The trail initially went down to the junction, then the crossover trail climbed fairly steeply through the woods for about 45 minutes before levelling out. We didn’t see any of the endangered huemul deer, which are said to be very shy. By this time the sky was once again clear, so the views were great. The trail continued on, passing by a couple of pretty mountain lakes, Laguna Madre y Hija (“Mother and Daughter”). From here we had spectacular views of FitzRoy and its neighbouring peaks plus the glaciers in front of it. Then it was just a short walk over a marshy area to our destination, Campamento Poincenot, which we reached at about 2 pm.

Campamento Poincenot is a much larger site than Campamento d’Agostini, but it also seems busier. Anyway, we soon had a site and set up our tent. We had some lunch and decided to hike to Laguna de los Tres, which is the viewpoint at the foot of FitzRoy where you are supposed to go to photograph the mountain at sunrise. We could see the trail up there and knew we were in for a steep climb, and steep it was. The first part, up to Campamento Río Blanco, the mountain climbers’ camp, was an easy walk. But from there the trail zigzagged steeply up a rocky slope to the moraine below FitzRoy. Once on the terminal moraine, though, the view of FitzRoy was spectacular. Here you are so close to the peaks you can hardly take them in with a single glance.

We lounged at the top for a while then headed down to make dinner, both agreeing that we wouldn’t be going up there tomorrow morning before sunset. We’ll take our pictures from the campground, thank you very much.

Tonight’s dinner was spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce. We also had chicken soup and hot chocolate. While cleaning up we had an interesting sunset, because of the angle of the mountains. The sun’s path just missed the top of FitzRoy, then went behind Aguja Poincenot on its left, came out from its left side, then finally set behind Aguja Saint-Exupery.

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