Tuesday, 4 January 2011

El Chalten Spectacular Trek 2 - Loma del Pliegue Tumbado

A view of Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Poincenot from a southerly aspect this time.  This 8 hour return trek from El Chalten village was to the top of Loma de Pliegue Tumbado - a towering mound of shale 1500 metres high with views of everything around the Fitz Roy massif.

Including the second highest peak, Cerro Torre at 3102 metres.

First full view of Cerro Torre on the left and the biggy Monte Fitz Roy on the right.  And sundry glaciers of course.

Do we ever get these ´lenticular´ clouds in the UK?  Anyone with a simple explanation of how they form?

Turn your head from the clouds and condors come into view.

Look down, and the only things apparently alive in the stony ground are this and one other species of flowering plant.

The final slog up to the summit of Loma de Pliegue Tumbado.  It gets ever steeper as you climb.   The vast lake in the distance is Lago Viedma.

About three and three quarter hours after leaving the village of El Chalten, we got the summit. See that glacier to the left of MJC´s elbow?  Next post will have us clambering around down there.

The way some people talk and write in guide books, you would expect the trails of El Chalten to be as busy as Oxford Street at lunchtime.   This is an exaggerated issue in our experience.  On this hike for example, we encountered just two people on the way up, two already on the summit and a handful on the way down.  Admittedly, within 5 minutes of us getting to the top, a group of 6 backpackers did sit down within 3 metres of us, chattering to one another as though all were hard of hearing. Ho hum.

Cerro Torre and its surrounding glaciers.   There´s an interesting story behind its conquest by mountaineers.  In particular an Italian alpinist, Cesare Maestri, who is as controversial in some circles as Italy´s current prime minister.  In 1959 this character claimed to be the first to summit Cerro Torre but his only companion and the camera with the photographic evidence were lost in an avalanche on the way down.   Many were sceptical about his claim.

In 1970 the Italian made another bid .  This time he caused outrage and further controversy by sinking hundreds of bolts with a drill into the final rock face to complete the ascent.  And he failed to climb the ´snow mushrooms´ on top of the rock to reach the very highest point.  The first undisputed conquest of the summit was by a group of different Italians in 1974.  I read this story in the Lonely Planet´s Trekking in the Patagonian Andes.

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