Cerro Torre and Glaciar Grande
Thursday’s sunrise brought a view of Cerro Fitzroy across Laguna Capri. After a delicious breakfast of breads, cereal, and hot tea we packed our bags, and our guides led us out of camp. Natalia led us back to the trail junction toward our camp near Cerro Torre. We hiked for about three hours past gorgeous glacial Laguna Madre E Hija, leaving Cerro Fitzroy in the distance and approaching the valley below Cerro Torre. After passing through what seemed almost like tropical beech forests and descending a steep hill, we paused on the sandy part of the valley floor for lunch. When then walked up valley for another half hour to Camp Thurgood. After a short break, we climbed to the top of the Little Ice Age terminal moraine damming Laguna Torre and up the left lateral moraine to a vantage point of Glaciar Grande, with Cerro Torre veiled in cloud. For a few minutes, the spectacular pinnacle of Cerro Torre came out of the clouds. We then descended through the forest along a stream back to our camp for a dinner of steak and potatoes. That night, Ranger and Claire wowed us with their violin talents, and Taylor displayed his rapping about geology.
We ate another delicious breakfast on Friday before getting gear (including harnesses and crampons) for glacier travel and ice climbing. Our route toward Glaciar Grande was on the right side of the valley. After everyone made it safely over Rio Fitz Roy by means of a Tyrolean traverse, we walked along the right lateral moraine, ascended the steep valley side, crossed a raging creek, and dropped down to the immense glacier.Yesterday’s beautiful weather had changed to cold wind with light rain. From the stagnant ice at the glacier’s corner we walked a big loop over crevasses, moulins, meltwater, and spectacular ridges of ice. As we ate lunch on the glacier, our guides set up two belays for rappelling and ice climbing in a giant sumadero. My toes will never be the same, but ice climbing was so cool! In the afternoon we left the glacier, walked back along Laguna Torre, again crossed the Rio Fitz Roy via the tenuous zip-line, and returned to Camp Thurgood. Our day was not done yet though. After packing the rest of our gear we threw on our packs again and began the long march out to El Chalten. It was much longer than I thought, but after about four hours the little town appeared below us. Though we were glad to see our hotel and eat delicious pizza, we really wanted to stay in the presence of those magnificent peaks just a little while longer.