After 5 days of strenuous effort, today was our “rest” day. That’s not to say that we stayed put and did nothing. Not at all! But the distance to the next campsite was not far, the wind was less (though still quite strong), and the promise of a food re-supply sustained us.
Our route today would see us join the Huemul Circuit – a 4-day trek from El Chaltén that you can hike independently. The two routes converge at the base of the trail down from the Paso del Viento (Windy Pass) – a pass which had taken on mythical proportions for me as a seriously hard-core feat having listened to other trekkers over the years. However, given my experiences of the past few days, I have to admit its stature was somewhat diminished in my mind…
Since it was only a small-ish detour, we decided to climb to the pass to have a look before descending again and continuing our journey to the Refugio Paso del Viento and our campsite. And even though my blisters were incredibly painful (the worst I’d ever had) there was no way I was going to miss this!
We hiked up to where the trails met and dumped our heavy backpacks. No point carrying the weight if we didn’t need to! From there it was a half-hour climb up a steep, switchback trail to the pass.
Despite being blown about by the wind on the way up, the pass itself was not windy at all! Apparently its name comes from further down the other side – a narrow defile through which the wind fairly screams.
Unfortunately, the sun was in exactly the wrong spot for photography, and the peaks of Cerro Grande and Cerro Solo were still hidden by clouds, but there were incredible views of the Glacier de Quevain and Glacier Río Túnel
and all the way down to Laguna Toro and the Río Túnel.
We hung out up here for about half an hour taking pictures
before heading back down to collect our packs.
A funny thought was that usually people take a short detour at this point to see the Icefield, where we’d taken a short detour to see the Pass.
The rest of the hike to the Refugio Paso del Viento was very easy, and we enjoyed bright sunshine for most of the way.
The Refugio itself was built in the 1950s and is only large enough to accommodate meals. So we pitched our tents in the best camp spots (it was several hours before the first of the Huemul Circuit hikers turned up)
and made ourselves comfortable in the hut for lunch.
A few hours later, our fresh food supply arrived on the backs of two porters from Serac Expeditions. They brought breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the next 3 days
plus some very special treats! A can of beer each (soft drink for me), and more salami, cheese, peanuts and olives, which Rafa carefully prepared on a wooden chopping board a la Jamie Oliver. The funny thing is – he didn’t actually know who Jamie Oliver was!
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, talking, joking and drinking copious amounts of tea and coffee, relishing in the fact that today was an easy one and that we had a communal area that we could all hang out in. Rafa cooked our “fancy” meals for dinner and it was another relatively early night as we vacated the hut so that the other hikers could also eat in comfort.
It is terribly selfish of me? But I was disappointed when the other hikers showed up. It had just been us for the past 6 days, and now we had to share our experience with others. I guess this is why I preferentially choose to trek in remote places…
- Hiking time: 2.5 hours
- Distance Covered: 5km
- Altitude: +228m, -437m
Read more about the Southern Patagonian Icefield Expedition
- Prelude – leading up to departure
- Day 1 – El Chaltén to Laguna de los 14
- Day 2 – Marconi Pass to Refugio Garcia Soto
- Day 3 – Gorra Blanca summit
- Day 4 – Refugio Garcia Soto to Circo de los Altares
- Day 5 – Circo de los Altares to Laguna Ferrari
- Day 6 – Laguna Ferrari to Refugio Paso de Viento
- Day 7 – Refugio Paso de Viento to Paso Huemul to Bahía Témpanos
- Day 8 – Bahía Tempanos to El Chaltén