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Trekking South Patagonia Ice Cap, Fitzroy

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Camp on South Patagonia Ice Field Patagonia

Trekking South Patagonia Ice Cap, Fitzroy

Andean Trails’ Tom describes the once-in-a-lifetime trek in extreme conditions on the South Patagonia Ice Cap in Fitzroy National Park, Argentina.

 

He writes:

The avalanching ice that was rumbling slowly towards us was completely forgotten about as I suddenly dropped 10 feet into a crevasse.

No noise.

Suspended by my safety rope over a seemingly bottomless hole in the glacier, I was facing a tower of solid ice, the very blue of Paul Newman’s eyes.

A tug.

Diego and the team were pulling me out of my frozen sub-glacial world, back to crashing and spiky icicles and into the teeth of a ravenous, chilling wind. I straggled up.

“That avalanche won’t reach us,” Diego promised. It wasn’t the first promise he would make.

 

Ice Field 

The South Patagonia Ice Field trek. Trek in and then up and behind the Fitzroy Range in Argentina onto an enormous glacier, famous for deadly winds, ferocious storms and for being one of the most beautiful places in the world.

It remains one of the wildest and hardest treks anywhere on the planet. I carried 25 kilos on my back and hiked in snowshoes, carrying a week’s worth of food, a tent, gas and more, while some folk pulled sleds of supplies.

“Just follow me, keep in line,” Diego urged.

 

Camp on South Patagonia Ice Field Patagonia

Camp, South Patagonia Ice Field.

 

No place like home

Having almost perfected escaping crevasses during the first day, next was a crash course in how to set up a tent in 80mph winds.

Through my ski goggles I could see small white particles racing past me over the solid ice floor, giving a bewildering impression I was flying over the land while at the same time being pricked to death.

“You’ll be fine now,” Diego promised.

How that dome survived the night…constantly battered…we awoke to find most of the tent buried by snowdrift, and had to dig ourselves out.

 

Fitzroy

We completed the ice cap trek in a mix of storms, sunshine, stillness and what felt like earthly madness, walking in the angry breath of a monster trying to shout us from its lair.

Nothing can prepare you for the raw beauty of Fitzroy, once the ice cap tires of pelting your soul with its raw energy.

By the time I got back to Chalten days later, I’d lost perspective of space and time.

The strong Patagonia winds that hit the town were now more cotton wool to my exposed face. The distance cold I’d seen in the crevasse seems to be reflected in all the eyes of the trekking party.

Over a celebratory beer in the Chalten microbrewery, Diego held true: “I told you it was worth it.”

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