Patagonia Ice Cap Traverse
Duration: 7 nights, 8 days
Season: From October to March
Start location: Chalten, Argentina
Pack weight: 25 kg
Distance: 50 miles
8 trekkers max
Difficuly: very demanding
Cost: 3900 USD
Trip facts: The Patagonian Ice Cap, also called the Patagonian Ice field or ‘Campo de Hielo Sur’ is the third largest ice field in the world, outside of Antarctica and Greenland. It has an average height of 1500 meters and is not a destination for the faint of heart. The 8 day traverse is an experience that will test your resolve and spark your sense of exploration. If you are looking for an adventure that will surpass anything you have ever done - this is it. This is one of the most scenic and breathtaking treks in Southern Patagonia and is very strenuous. Technical experience is not required, but outdoor experience (especially cold wilderness experience) is highly recommended. This is not a trip to be taken lightly and top guides are required. You should be comfortable trekking up to 8 hours a day on multiple types of terrain. Expect to carry a load of 25 to 30 kg, unless you choose to hire one or more porters.
Day 1: Team Meeting and guide introduction. Debriefing about the details of the program and gear check.
Day 2: Transfer to Río Eléctrico and start the trek. It takes 2 hours to get to the “Piedra del Fraile” campsite, or 5 hs to “La Playita” Camp, at the foot of Marconi Glacier, depending on weather.
Day 3: Trek to Paso Marconi (1550m); 6 to 10 hours. This is the crux of the trip. Good weather is needed for this section of the trek. Weather allowing, there are excellent views of Fitz Roy, Piergiorgio and Gorra Blanca, among others. Once over the pass, we do not need to fight the Patagonian winds as much as below. This night we camp directly on the Ice Cap or at Gorra Blanca refuge. Trekking time: 8-9 hours.
Day 4: Trek to Circo de Los Altares. This is a short day (about 6 hours) with the possibility to approach the west face of Cerro Torre. Camp is made on the Ice Cap.
Day 5: Trek to Laguna Ferrari or “Paso del Viento” refuge. After about 4 hours hiking South from the Circo, we will get out of the glacier and hike 2 to 3 hours further through moraines and rockery terrain. Camping at Laguna Ferrari or Paso del Viento refuge.
Day 6: Trek over Paso del Viento (1500m) and then down the Tunnel Valley to get to Laguna Toro and camp in the forest, about 6 or 7 hours trekking. There are excellent views of Mariano Moreno Range and Viedma Glacier. The terrain is rocky and we will have excellent views of a variety of glaciers today. There is a river crossing near Laguna Toro with a fun tyrolean traverse. Camp at Laguna Toro.
Day 7: This is a good ‘extra’ day we factor in for bad weather, injury, sickness - or even a ‘free’ day, need-be.
Day 8: Trek back to El Chaltén, over the Pliegue Tumbado. 5-6 hours. Return to Chalten. Offical end of the expedition.
70-80 liter Backpack
Plastic boots or technical leather boots
Sleeping bag -20C comfort level recommended
Base layer thermals
gore-tex over pant
Sunglasses UV protected
Medium fleece jacket
Gore-tex rain parka with hood
Waterproof gloves or gore-tex over mits
Ski cap and bandana
Sun block and lips protector
Nalgene water bottle
First aid kit