Thirdeyemom

Hike to Mount Fitz Roy

One of the most blissful things about trekking is the amazing amount of energy you expand throughout the day.  For someone who loves to eat and drink, being able to eat and drink whatever I wanted and not gain a pound was something truly incredible.  Sweets, breads, nuts, cheese were on my mind and eaten with pleasure throughout the day while delightful, homemade Argentine treasures were rapidly consumed at night over a bottle of dry, smooth, aged Malbec.  Needless to say, after a long day of trekking out in the elements and an extremely satisfying and filling meal and bottle or two of wine, I instantly dozed off in a deep slumber and slept peacefully (a rare treat for me these days) throughout the night.

The next morning I awoke earlier.  Something was different.  I couldn’t figure out immediately what it was until I finally got my achy, sore body out of bed and gently pulled open the dark, thick curtains.  And there it was…the big, wonderful, glorious sunshine!  I was overjoyed to see the sun because I knew only too well what it meant.  Excellent, unobstructed views of one of the best hikes in Southern Patagonia!  If we got up, inhaled our breakfast and got on our way soon, there would be a good chance we would make it to the crème de la crème, Mount Fitz Roy and see the craggy, jagged ice-capped peak in all its glory.  Given the ever changing weather in Patagonia, seeing it or anything is not always possible.  In fact, Fabricio said that typically it is only a one in ten shot that the day will be clear when you reach the top, meaning 9 out of 10 unlucky trekkers see absolutely nothing but gray, massive clouds and fog.  That would be an enormous disappointment given how many hours it took to reach this remote place and the unlikely chance that I would ever get to see it again.  Thus, I was up and ready in a heartbeat and impatiently awaiting our guide’s arrival so we can begin our hike.

The trek to Mount Fitz Roy is not technically difficult.  It is just grueling and long, taking eight hours with a short break or two for lunch and rest.  I had done long hikes before and found that I really enjoy them.  There is something about being in it for the long haul, and challenging your body that gets you in some kind of mysterious bodily rhythm and mindset.  Trekking is kind of like running a slow marathon yet better.  Not as intense.  Not as extreme.  Yet, that same kind of exhausting, mind over matter feeling where you somehow enter a zone of deep contemplation and relaxation.  For me, hiking is the only sport that does this to me.  It brings me far, far away, into areas of my mind and body that have been long sealed up and hidden.  It represents some kind of crazy, deep release that makes me feel refreshed and whole once again.  There is something about using only your body and being in nature that brings me peace. And the longer the hike, the better.

We reached the start of the trail at half past eight and saw no one.  The air was fresh and crisp and there was not a single cloud in the brilliant deep blue sky.  I felt an energy and excitement for the day that made me feel truly alive.  I couldn’t wait to see the top and be rewarded with a supposedly gorgeous view of a postcard perfect Patagonia.   My brain was running wild with thoughts and conversation flowed freely and effortlessly.

The start of the trail:

Day 2 Hike:  8 hour exhausting hike to Mount Fitzroy:

Start of hike, beautiful weather.  We lucked out.  Not always certain you will see the peaks.  In fact, only a one in ten chance:

One of the surprising things about Patagonia is its purity.  When I was in New Zealand several years ago, I remember the big advertisement at the time was for “100% Pure New Zealand”.  I of course fell head over heels in love with the raw beauty and nature of New Zealand’s South Island yet it never felt as remote and pure to me as Patagonia.  Perhaps it was the utter ruggedness and harshness of the landscape and environment that made Patagonia seem so utterly pure.  I’m not sure if I can point a finger to exactly why I felt this why but I did.  In Patagonia, anything seemed possible.  The first time I dipped my empty water bottle into a flowing, glacial river I was extremely hesitant about its safety.  Yet my local guide encouraged me to give it a try, stating that it was the purest, freshest, most delicious water in the world.  And, it was.  I’ll never forget the incredible taste of Patagonian water directly from the source.  It was amazing and I could drink it forever.  Water in park is so pure, we used it to refill our water bottles getting drinking water directly from the streams and glacial lakes (burr…cold sticking your hand in but hugely rewarding for the effort).  Here is a picture of the rock landscape protecting the rapidly flowing glacial river with delicious drinking water abound:

As we climbed further along the empty trail, we suddenly saw a glimpse of our destination.  Here is a view of Mount Fitz Roy through the thick beech forest:

Small glacier pouring out of the mountains:

We were indeed truly lucky as the weather remained picture perfect clear.  Not a single cloud had arrived into the sky to mess things up.  What a miracle!  We knew that they last eight consecutive days on the trail had been misty and full of fog.  To hike eight hours and not see a thing would be a huge disappointment!

On the approach to the top and our much deserved picnic lunch:

Heading up through the snow:

The breathtaking approach of Mt. Fitz Roy:

View of where we started below:

At the top—wow, did we luck out on the clear sky.  Only 1 out of 10 days like this in Patagonia!  And no wind!!!! (there is a lot of wind, and there is mucho mucho mucho viento as they say here):

Wow….what a place for a picnic:

Strange patagonian clouds:

Almost home…one last look:

One of our great drinking holes:

94 comments

    • Thanks for your comment! Yes it was wonderful. If you liked the post, please feel free to check out my earlier posts on Nepal, another place that was incredibly serene!

    • Thanks! Did you read my earlier writings on my recent trip to India and Nepal? They are my first posts. I would love to hear your feedback on those posts and my experience there. Nepal was by far one of my most favorite places I’ve ever been and India was quite a ride.

    • Yes it is! It is really a magical place so I would definitely check it out. If you don’t like trekking, you can also do horseback riding through the magnificent scenery. Now that would be cool!

  1. What stunning photos and what an amazing expereince! You make me want to trek–as in NOW! Wow—wonderful post.

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed. Hang on for the ride!

    Kathy

    • Thank you! What is the freshly pressed? I better look into that.
      I am glad people are reading my stuff! I LOVE to travel and love to hike. I found it hard to share my experiences when I returned as my friends get bored hearing me rant and rave about the trip so that is why I thought I’d start writing it all out. There is truly something magical about hiking, especially when you are in the middle of nowhere and all you see is peace and beauty around you. You finally feel free and alive.
      I’m glad you enjoyed and yes you must go for it and do a trek! 🙂

  2. You were very lucky to get weather like this by all accounts. Patagonia is definitely on my list and this pictures just make me want to go there now!

    • Yes indeed! This was my third trip there and when I first went to Chile we had unbelievable weather in even a more southern, wild place…Torres del Paine N.P. Only one day was the sheets of rain and blizzard where we got snowed in to a refugio. Other than that, the rest was picture perfect. I plan to scan those photos and place on my blog soon because I truly fell in love with that part of the world! You must go there! 🙂

  3. Very cool pictures! My folks are retirees who do a lot of hiking in New Mexico and Arizona but while they’ve taken a lot of spectacular photos they’ve never gotten anything that looks quite like this. Thank you for sharing!

    • Great! Glad you enjoyed. My parents actually live in Tucson, AZ and every time I go out there I do a ton of hiking. I love the desert and the landscape is amazing. What is hard to believe is that I took all these photos with a cheap digital camera. That just tells you have amazingly beautiful Patagonia is. If you like these photos, feel free to check out my earlier posts from NEPAL. It is equally if not more beautiful. Cheers!

  4. wow, I wish I could be in your shoes at least for a day…been so busy working I really haven’t had time to do anything else…reading this gave me enough energy to go on to the day I finally get to travel myself…can’t wait to read another one of your posts …

  5. That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing those pictures. I haven’t been anywhere like that, although on my drive through the Rockies a couple years ago, we stopped at a couple of hidden gems where we took part in drinking the fresh and freezing mountain water and hiking to a hidden lake. It was so nice! I’m jealous 🙂

  6. Great pictures. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I travel the world and the world is a wondrous place. Each place has its own unique beauty.

    Yilmaz

  7. wow…fantastic post and pictures! I’m planning to head to Patagonia to see the Torres del Paine & Fitz Roy in January so seeing this has made me even more excited!

    • Great! You will LOVE it! In my humble opinion, Torres del Paine was my most favorite place. I am planning on posting my photos from there within the next month or so. It was quite a trip. you will truly enjoy it!

    • Thank you very much! It was quite a suprise and makes me glad others are enjoying my stories. I love Patagonia and also Nepal (earlier posts) was unbelievable. Thank you for reading!

    • You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed. If you are interested, check out my earlier posts on trekking through Nepal. It was amazingly beautiful!!!

    • It wasn’t too cold, especially since I’m from Minnesota and am used to well below zero degree temps during the long, long winters. The only thing that can get bone-chilling cold is the wind which we didn’t have much of on this trip. In Chile, the wind is out of this world nuts!

  8. I’m super jealous! An Image of this mountain is one of the things that drew me to go to Patagonia when I did, although I never made it down there (if that makes any sense at all). This is a great post and seems like a great hike!

    I MIIIGHT be heading back to Patagonia in 5-6 months! Maybe a little longer. If I do I’ll probably stay for quite a while. Probably more on the Chilean side this time though. I really hope I get the opportunity to, I’ve never connected with a place as much as I did in Patagonia.

  9. Ah, your pictures inspire me to go outside! LOL, but then who’s going to write for my blog? My favorite is the 5th one: looking at the mountains through the portal created by the tree branches. Very nice!

  10. Whoa! Now THAT is a ruggedly beautiful, awe inspiring landscape. There is only one thing bad about enjoying killer photos like this: I can’t crawl through my screen and start up the trail myself. Doh!

  11. Julio Eiffelt R R

    Beautiful pics 🙂
    I am wondering, when i go there. i dont have much experiences to hike a mount with snow and cool conditions. Just wet and hot. nice post.

  12. Sound like a great diet… Eat whatever you want, then trek your butt off for eight hours! Hmmm, on second thoughts, maybe not for me. Wonderful pictures though. Well done on all your efforts!

  13. Sounds like an amazing trek. My Mom and Dad love those and drags me along on the holidays. I hate it when I’m doing it but after, it sure feels like an accomplishment. My last high intensity trek was at Cradle Mountain.

  14. What a spectacular shaped mountain! If you asked a young child to draw a mountain it would look something like Mt. Fitz Roy.
    What is the origin of the name? I thought Patagonia was full of Welsh people but Fitz Roy sounds more Scottish or Irish.

    • Yes, it is quite unbelievable. Sorry for the delay in responding. I got a lot of comments after the FP deal. Here is what I found on the internet which explains the origin of the name. It is interesting stuff!
      “Monte Fitz Roy is a mountain located near El Chaltén village, in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, in Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile. The mountain is also known as Cerro Chaltén, Cerro Fitz Roy, or simply Mount Fitz Roy. Cerro is a Spanish word meaning mountain, while Chaltén comes from a Tehuelche (Aonikenk) word meaning “smoking mountain”, due to a cloud that usually forms around the mountain’s peak. Fitz Roy, however, was only one of a number of peaks the Tehuelche called Chaltén.[1]

      As he describes in his book, Viaje a la Patagonia Austral, Francisco Moreno first saw the mountain on 2 March 1877. Since the native inhabitants also called other mountains Chaltén, he named it Fitz Roy, in honour of Robert FitzRoy, who, as captain of the HMS Beagle had travelled up the Santa Cruz River in 1834 and charted large parts of the Patagonian coast.”

  15. I’m glad to know that we share the same views on hiking. Reading this reminded me of how I savored writing my blog entry entitled, “Why Do I Backpack?” Nonetheless, you shared deeper thoughts which got me to write here.

    Congrats, Ma’am!

  16. Stunning landscapes! You remind me of Lionel Terrey’s book “Conquistadors of the Useless”. He and Guido Magnone climbed this mountain for the first time in 1952.
    Congratulations for the trip!

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  18. yve

    Oh wow! Splendid trek! I love trekking as well…glad you enjoyed this one. I used to keep a blog on my hikes and mountain trips as well…but dont keep it anymore. You inspired me! 🙂

  19. Oh wow! Splendid trek! I love trekking as well…glad you enjoyed this one. I used to keep a blog on my hikes and mountain trips as well…but dont keep it anymore. You inspired me! 🙂

    Cheers!

  20. A great post and some more really gorgeous mountain photos! I love Patagonia too and I know what you mean about the difference between there and N.Z.’s South Island. I think it has something to do with the immense size and the huge distances and the feeling of remoteness. I totally agree with your description of how hiking makes you feel “There is something about using only your body and being in nature that brings me peace.”. I feel it too. There’s nothing like it!

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  22. Yes indeed! This was my third trip there and when I first went to Chile we had unbelievable weather in even a more southern, wild place…Torres del Paine N.P. Only one day was the sheets of rain and blizzard where we got snowed in to a refugio. Other than that, the rest was picture perfect. I plan to scan those photos and place on my blog soon because I truly fell in love with that part of the world! You must go there! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment! Actually my first trip to Patagonia was to Torres del Paine and my husband and I had the same experience…we got snowed in to the refugio at the french valley! I loved Patagonian Chile, even more than the Argentina side. I plan to post my photos from that trip as well but am busy now with my Morocco posts. Stay tuned!

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  24. Lu

    How fantastic! I loved Patagonia – although I admit didn’t do nearly as much (or as strenuous) hiking as you have done. I also remember seeing some crazy clouds -they looked like UFOs! It’s a beautiful part of the world and I have some wonderful memories from there 🙂

  25. Thanks! It was so spectacular. I inherited my love of trekking from my dad who is now 68 and still never ceases to amaze me. I can only hope to be as athletic as he is when I’m in my 60s. Hills aren’t bad at all, unless of course your knees aren’t good. I’m hoping I have my dad’s genes in the knee department! 🙂

  26. Melissa Avery

    Hello, love your Patagonia post. Just wondering If you had kids when you did the Fitzroy trek. I have two kids right and and my hubby and I are avid hikers, but we’ve only day hikes with our kids (currently 2.5 years and 11 months). We are planning on going to Argentina next November 2013 when out kids will be almost 4 and 2. Would it be possible to do this trek?

    • Hello! sorry for the delay in response but I’m actually traveling in France now and just got access to internet once again. I went to Argentina without my kids (they were at home with my husband). You could definitely bring your kids if you carry them both in a child carrier backpack. My children would never make it but if your kids are used to traveling and staying inside the packs then it would probably work out ok. It really is a very long way to this part of Argentina. We traveled by bus and it wasn’t exactly condusive to children. However if you rented a car and went yourself it would probably be fine. My opinion is that if your kids are good travelers and you don’t mind carrying them even on steep terrain than you could do it. If it was me I wouldn’t but then again it depends on the children and if you can carry them. 🙂 If you don’t want to head that far south and on such difficult terrain,I would recommend going to the Patagonian Lakes District like San Carlos de Bariloche. We went there on a different trip and that is definitely doable with children and not as far. Check out my earlier posts on that. I love Argentina! So please let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂 Nicole

      • Melissa Avery

        I will definitely check out all your Argentina posts. We do have kid carriers that we use all the time when we do local hikes. I was reading in the Foders Argentina book that there is an overnight hike at the base of Cerro Fitzroy near El Chaltén. It’s a 6 hour hike (without kids of course) but you could make it an overnight hike. It takes us almost twice as long to do any hike with kids haha! We aren’t planning any major backpacking with the kids in Argentina but we do want to something because we love hiking/backpacking. We’ve done couple of backpacking in Peru, before kids, but we want to continue our outdoorsy lifestyle with our children, we just know we have to take it really slow with them. They’ve been traveling babies since they’ve been born 🙂

      • Thanks Melissa for your comment! I think if you have good traveling kids than you will be fine, especially if you are used to carrying them. I did recall another family doing the same thing on the trek with one child in a pack. El Chalten, the base, is a wonderful little town that you can use as a base and do smaller day hikes too. How fun!!!! Let me know if you have any more questions. Make sure you make it to Perito Moreno Glacier too and if you have time for Chile, Torres del Paine is my absolute favorite. I wrote about it on my blog as well filed under “Chile”. 🙂

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      • RR

        Great blog. Qui k question. Are there day hikes to see fitz Roy? And do we need tour guides?
        Thanks

      • Thanks for the comment. Yes, you can do a day hike and you don’t need a guide at all. The trails are very well marked. We just like having a guide to learn about the local culture and flora and fauna. But you can easily do this one by yourself. It is a great hike!

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