Trail running around Fitz Roy

After our trail running around Torres del Paine we left for El Chalten, our “base camp” until the end of our Patagonia trip. El Chalten is a small town at walking distance from the Cerro Torre and Fitzroy. #adventurelist

Aguja Poincennot and Cerro Fitz Roy, Patagonia (© P. Gatta)
Aguja Poincennot and Cerro Fitz Roy, Patagonia (© P. Gatta)

This place is a real paradise for climbing… when the weather is great. The problem is, that doesn’t happen often and with the short period of time left, our chances to climb our objectives were rather slim.

El Chalten (© P. Gatta)
El Chalten (© P. Gatta)

So as soon as we arrived, we rushed on the Cerro Torre, hopping to take advantage of 36 hours of “relatively good” weather. It seems that nobody climbed it this year and we couldn’t get any information about the route, nor the approach or the long return along the glacier and Paso Marconi.

Walking toward Niponino, El Mocho above (© P. Gatta)
Walking toward Niponino, El Mocho above (© P. Gatta)

We left El Chalten with +20kg pack with all the gear, tent, 4 days of food and warm clothes as we knew we would have to come back in bad weather.
We set our first bivouac on the Glacier Torre, above a place called Niponino. Getting there has been a bit tricky as the moraine and the glacier were pretty interesting to cross…
Then the good weather window disappeared -or never existed- and we spent the evening trying to keep the tent in one piece. It has been windy and snowy all night. We couldn’t see anything when we woke up and the decision to come back down was rather obvious.

Glacier Torre falling in the lake (© P. Gatta)
Glacier Torre falling in the lake (© P. Gatta)

The forecast for the next five days was pretty bad; 50-90km/h wind and some snow so we went more trail running.

Five stars Trail running !
Today I have been lucky to run on one of the best trails I have seen. I started at El Chalten and ran to the Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Piedras Blancas.

Anna running toward the Fitz Roy Mirador (© P. Gatta)
Anna running toward the Fitz Roy Mirador (© P. Gatta)

It is a 32 km and +1500m trail with breathtaking views over Cerro Fitz Roy, Poincenot, St Exupery, Mermoz, Guillaumet… It also crosses several lakes: Laguna Capri, Laguna de Los Tres, Laguna Piedras blancas. The trail is technically easy and obvious. A must !

Philippe with Fitz Roy behind (© P. Gatta)
Philippe with Fitz Roy behind (© P. Gatta)

A few days later we left El Chalten for a new attempt to climb a peak in the Fitz Roy Massif. The weather forecast ? Normal: strong wind and snow. We left anyway for the Rio Electrico Valley and went up to bivouac at Piedra Negra. Many strong climbers were leaving the area because of the bad conditions.

Going to Piedra Negra camp (© A. Gatta)
Going to Piedra Negra camp (© A. Gatta)

We spent the night at 4 in a tent for 3 and with 60km/h wind but it was not too bad. Yannick and Jeremie left at sunrise to climb a short gully on the East side of Aguja Guillaumet. I was too weak (Bronchitis) and decided to stay at the camp with Anna. Unfortunately the camp was not sheltered from the Westerly wind and at around 11am a major gust crashed the tent. Anna managed to gather the gear before it got blown away while I was laid down on the outside of the tent to try to keep it on the ground. We saved most of our stuff but had to keep the tent down and waited for 3h in the harsh weather until the return of Yannick and Jeremie. We worried for them but they came back with happy faces because the East face was sheltered, they owe us a diner for that!
We went back straight to El Chalten. Despite the conditions we managed to run/walk/climb 260 km in 12 days so far. The weather forecast for the next days is as miserable as my Bronchitis, so we will see what else we can do.

Anna and Aguja Guillaumet behind (© P. Gatta)
Anna and Aguja Guillaumet behind (© P. Gatta)

Then we did another good trail running, still in stormy weather. We left El Chalten and made a 22 km loop around 3 lakes: Lagunas Capri, Madre and Hija. The trail is scenic, easy and amazingly good for running. We couldn’t see the top of the mountains hidden in the clouds, but we could see that the snow starts at a lower altitude than two days ago and it keeps on snowing…

Anna running around Laguna Capri (© P. Gatta)
Anna running around Laguna Capri (© P. Gatta)

Excellent trail running to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado. It is a good 22 km and +1200m trail with a perfect mix of forest, open space and amazing views over the lakes and the peaks of El Chalten Massif. Well, at least the peaks that were outside the clouds. We had the usual Patagonian wind, spin drift and black clouds on the top, absolutely perfect for the photos and videos.

Philippe and Yannick close to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (© A. Gatta)
Philippe and Yannick close to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (© A. Gatta)

Anna on the top of Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (© P. Gatta)
Anna on the top of Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (© P. Gatta)

Excellent trail running to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado. It is a good 22 km and +1200m trail with a perfect mix of forest, open space and amazing views over the lakes and the peaks of El Chalten Massif. Well, at least the peaks that were outside the clouds. We had the usual Patagonian wind, spin drift and black clouds on the top, absolutely perfect for the photos and videos.

After 2 weeks spent in El Chalten we saw the Cerro Torre the day before we left and only for a few hours. We left without having been able to climb what we planned but that’s very often the case in Patagonia.
No disappointment though as trail running was way above our expectations. We ran around 300 km and +13,000m in the National Parks of Los Glacieres, Torres del Paine and Fitz Roy massif. We had a couple of beautiful days, 110 km/h wind on John Garner pass, rain, mud, snow… but overall these trails were just amazing. I will try to post more details for the ones who would like to run here because Patagonia is definitively a top destination for Trail running.

From Cerro Torre (left) to Fitz Roy (highest) (© P. Gatta)
From Cerro Torre (left) to Fitz Roy (highest) (© P. Gatta)

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