We are about to discover one of the most impressive trails in all of Patagonia. Because we are located in the Argentine capital of hiking. Let us begin!
Mount Fitz Roy has earned its reputation as one of the most difficult and attractive mountains to climb. Because it is based in the village of El Chaltén. The truth is that this mountain has a height of 3405 meters above sea level.
The ancient inhabitants of the area called this mountain with the name "Chaltén", which comes from "ahónikenk" and means "mountain that smokes". This is because the clouds constantly cover the top, so for the ancestors it was more of a volcano than a hill. It was the expert Francisco Pascasio Moreno who baptized it with the name "Fitz Roy" on March 2, 1877 in honor of the captain of the Beagle, Robert Fitz Roy, who toured Santa Cruz in 1834. However, the local community and most tourism guides, continue to name the Cerro "El Chaltén".
With a very unstable climate, Fitz can only be climbed for a short time in the summer months. Those who try to summit really have to be fast and play with the good weather conditions to achieve it.
Entering a little in the alpinist history of the mountain. In 1952, the French expedition made up of Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone, among others, who climbed the southeast route, was the first to reach its summit. Thus, a new chapter was written in the history of Argentine and world mountaineering. The second ascent occurred in 1965 when Carlos Comesaña and José Luis Fonrouge (from Argentina) tried and succeeded via the supercanaleta route, a task that took them two and a half days. In 1968 the third ascent took place and until today there were not many more adventurers who dared and succeeded in reaching the summit.
Regarding its geographical location, Mount Fitz Roy is located in the famous Andes Mountain Range, within the Glaciers National Park. We already mentioned that it is 3,405 meters high, and to be able to observe this beautiful mountain, you first need to get to El Chaltén, the youngest town in Argentina, founded in 1985. From there, the trail starts that will take you to the base of the mountain, reaching the Laguna de los Tres .
Of all the trails in El Chaltén, probably the most demanding of all is the Fitz Roy trek. It is a long route in which you have to save areas with a steep slopes, so you have to start the walk early and prepare well.
The path to Fitz Roy is about 10 kilometers with a medium-high difficulty. On the route, you do not climb to the top of the mountain (because it is a vertical rock wall), but rather you reach the lake formed by its glacier at the base of the mountain. This place is called Laguna de Los Tres.
The trail is very well marked. Also, as it is the most famous route in El Chaltén, many people are traveling it, so it is possible to do it on your own easily.
The Fitz Roy trek begins next to the town of El Chaltén. The first three kilometers are of medium difficulty, on ascending terrain. Now, the effort is rewarded, as there is a wonderful view of the entire valley of the River de las Vueltas.
From there to kilometer 9 the path becomes almost flat, being an easy and beautiful part, between Patagonian vegetation. In this easier part, you will reach Laguna Capri, a beautiful place to contemplate Mount Fitz Roy on clear days. It is a good place to rest for a while and perhaps have a snack to gain strength for what remains. There is also a campsite if you want to stay the night.
People who don't want to do a very difficult walk usually get here, but I recommend you continue because what remains is equally spectacular.
Once past Laguna Capri, the land is still quite affordable. Some sections are made between the vegetation, and others through more open areas, which can be hard if there is a lot of wind. It is common for strong winds to blow in Argentine Patagonia and fact, you will see that many trees and bushes are bent to one side by their effect.
You will pass by another campsite, Poincenot, and at kilometer 9 the hardest part of this trail arrives, where the path only goes up, and up, and up… until you reach Laguna de Los Tres. This lagoon is the end point of the trek and from there you can see the rocky wall of Fitz Roy in all its splendor. Take all the time in the world to enjoy it, you've earned it!
From there you can also see the Laguna Sucia, which is another large lake that emerged from the melting of the glacier. In this case, it cannot be reached, since it is located at a lower altitude and at the moment there is no path to get there easily.
The return to El Chaltén is done along the same path. As it is downhill, it will take less time to complete the 10 kilometers, but I recommend you take a break and look back from time to time to admire the majestic Fitz Roy mountain.
Along the path to Fitz Roy, you will see signs to go to Piedras Blancas, which is a glacier that can be seen by following another path. If you see that you have hours of daylight left when you return to El Chaltén, I recommend you go to the viewpoint. It is a very nice sight!
In addition, the Fitz Roy trek is connected to the Cerro Torre trek by another 8-kilometer trail, so you can go from one to the other without having to return to town. This trail passes through the Madre and Hija lagoons and many people do this route, sleeping at the Poincenot campsite, one kilometer before reaching the Laguna de Los Tres.
The first day is usually the path to the campsite, and on the second day many get up early to see the sunrise at Laguna de Los Tres, as the sun's rays turn the rocky wall orange. Then they descend, take the detour to Laguna Torre and spend another night at the campsite there, and on the third day, they return to El Chaltén.
There is a wide variety of excursions at different levels. From the regular level, through trekking and ascents
Voyagers travel offers full tour itineraries that cover the entire Argentine Patagonia, below are some sample Argentina travel itineraries that you can book by filling out our reservation forms, you can also send a request for a customized itinerary and one of our Patagonia specialists will help you create a full vacation program with all your preferences. Popular combinations include visits to Buenos Aires or visiting the famous Perito Moreno Glacier.
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The weather can change very quickly and be completely different from one day to the next.
The ideal time to try to access its summits is from mid-February to the end of March. In the winter season (from May to September) it is necessary to register at the Information Center of the Park to walk the trails and also to camp in authorized camps and remote areas.
What to bring to the Fitz Roy trek
It is important to be well prepared to do the Fitz Roy trail (and any other trail in El Chaltén and Patagonia). We must not forget that it is a remote place, that the weather is changeable, and that it is an area of mountains and glaciers. The reason for it to be considered one of the best treks in South America has to do with it being one of the most remote areas of the continent.
Therefore, in addition to checking the weather, you should take with you everything you may need. If you are only going to do the excursion during the day, take a backpack with all the basics, such as a bottle of water, food for the whole day, a map, your mobile phone, and an external battery just in case, a front light for if it gets dark, a first aid kit in case you have a mishap or even some trekking poles.
In addition, it is important to wear light and breathable clothing and to dress in layers, from an undershirt to a windbreaker. The footwear should be trekking boots that are already used and comfortable for you and don't forget accessories such as gloves, a hat, or sunglasses.
I hope this post will help you plan the Fitz Roy trek. Touring the landscapes of El Chaltén and the Calafate area is a real luxury, so if you like nature, you will surely enjoy this trail. My recommendation is that you do it completely, up to the Laguna de Los Tres. It is a long and tiring route, but beautiful!