Cam Honan – Arthur Range Traverse, Tasmania

Cam Honan has hiked everything. Everywhere. But for me his most impressive trips have been his extreme Tasmania epics.

Floating rivers on his NeoAir mattress, for example.

For us mere mortals, he summarized his advice on a route called Arthur Range Traverse.

It’s only 48 miles (77km) but will take you 10-14 days, on average. With no resupply. You carry all that food on your back.

If not already decided there’s no way that sounds like fun, click through to …

Arthur Range Traverse Planning Guide

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Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 4

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

 Refugio Segre (Italia) to Bariloche

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

After surviving day 3 I assumed day 4 would be a breeze. A stroll down to the lake.

No. ☹️

It’s very difficult and perhaps the most dangerous section of all.

It’s another early morning scramble to navigate along the far side of Laguna Negra. Some fixed ropes help on the downclimb.

Alone I was following the Lonely Planet route on my phone, increasingly distancing myself from all the day hikers heading a different direction up to a famed ridge lookout.

Very unsure, I changed heading and followed them up to a fantastic vista.

Tronador

Turns out there are at least 2 routes out of Laguna Negra. Almost nobody does the LP variation any more.

From the ridge it turned out I’d be the only one that day trying for Lopez hut and Bariloche. Everyone else decided to take the easy way down including the big guided hiking group.

I was feeling fit and healthy. The weather perfect. Again.

I had to go for it.

Next — what else — a scramble along another ridge.

The views were beautiful today. Prettiest yet.

I came to the long, painful scree descent to another green, boggy valley. I crawled under a scrub tree at the bottom just to get some shade.

The similarly long ascent is on large, loose, sharp frost shattered rock. Going up is dangerous. I met 2 Argentinians descending there. SUPER dangerous. The worst of many bad slopes.

It took me about 2 hours of steady climbing to finally gain the ridge. It wasn’t until this point that I was convinced I would make the Traverse. The lake looked very close.

This was my final pass. It’s all downhill from here.

How to descend? Both left and right looked possible, but neither was appealing.

Turns out the trail takes you directly over the top of the rocks blocking the route.

There’s Lopez hut way below. Hours below.

It’s all scrambling to get there.

This seasonal snow melt tarn is one of the water sources for the hut.

I was getting close to civilization, however.

Here’s a water catchment pond at the hut. Not looking potable.

I got bad vibes in every way from Lopez hut. It’s privately run. Avoid it if you can.

I had lunch. Then headed down a likely looking trail with an escort.

Turned out I’d chosen a disused path on the wrong side of the creek.

Once we crossed to the true right, I quickly found the main trail down.

It was about a 2 hour wait for the next bus to town.

Jumping off close to my hostel I ran into British friends who had just returned from a different hike. We enjoyed a big carne and red wine feast at a Parilla restaurant on the lake.

Celebration. 🍷

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

 

Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 3

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Refugio San Martin (Jakob) to Refugio Segre (Italia)

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

This is the BIG, BAD section.

Lonely Planet:

… harder and more hazardous …

… should not be attempted unless the weather is very good …

… crampons and an ice axe may be needed …

About an hour in I found myself crouched on the vertical wall here.

Lots of exposure. No clear markings for the easiest route up.

Should I quit and go back?

Happily a group of about 15 hikers arrived at just the right time. Their two guides knew the line.

Whew.

Aside from the risk of falling, it wasn’t that bad. We made it easily. Weather was perfect.

The guides suggested I follow them along the ridge.

I did. Until we got to the summit of a peak called Navidad 2060m. (Christmas)

After getting some directions on the descent, I went ahead. They were taking a long lunch.

Next came the impossibly long, slippery, scary, knee straining descent.

The only easy part was glissading on a couple of snow fields.

What a relief to finally reach the valley.

Life.

Unfortunately the valley section was endless too.

Some sections required bushwhacking and route finding.

At other times I had to boulder hop back and forth across the creek.

I finally saw some young people splashing in a river pool. They were departing Segre (Italia) and heading out down the valley.

They pointed me to one of the two steep paths upwards.

I was thrilled to finally reach the 300m spiralling switch back climb up to the Italia (Segre) hut. It seemed easy compared with the descent.

By the time they get there, most hikers have already decided NOT to take the high route on day 4 instead opting for the easier valley descent to the town of Colonia Suiza next morning.

The hut warden was a super guy. Very happy I had made the day safely.

Refugio Segre smelled great.

I went immediately for siesta.

Three hours later, at dusk, the group finally arrived. No injuries. But some of their people were very tired.

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 1

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Bariloche to Cascada

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

From Bariloche there are two #55 buses taking two different routes to the ski resort. Check with locals to see where to catch the correct bus.

You need to purchase a SUBE bus card. Local buses do not take cash in Bariloche.

Cerro Catedral Alta Patagonia Ski Resort

Two choices to start your trek:

1. Ski lift – Amancay to Dientes de Caballo ($24 in 2018)

2. Walk Arroyo Van Titter

Flush with cash, I took the cable car. Everyone else from my bus walked to save money.

(Early in the season the high route via the ski lift may be impassable due to snow and ice. Check with CAB in Bariloche to confirm.)

The cable car is very popular with day hikers. They come up on clear days to see the amazing vista over to Chile. This is called the Las Nubes trail.

Volcán Puntiagudo

From the top of the lift it’s about 4 hours to Frey or to the most popular alternative, Cascada camp.

I was surprised at the challenging ridge walk required. It’s difficult right off the bat. Follow the paint splotches.

It’s a high alpine route, not a trail.

I met an American day hiking who planned on descending via Frey and Arroyo Van Titter. Same day. He would be finishing in the dark.

shade

There’s no water up high. It was hot.

At Cancha de Futbol you either turn left and head for Refugio Frey (the only Refugio which requires a reservation for both dormitory and camping) … OR, turn right towards Jacob and psych up for the long, steep scree descent towards the valley.

I planned to camp down in the green at Cascada as I couldn’t get a reservation for Frey.

First I turned left hoping to see Frey from above.

I could see the pond above the refugio, but the hut itself was out of sight below.

For navigation I was using Lonely Planet Trekking in the Patagonian Andes (out of print) — Nahuel Huapi Traverse PDF on my phone. I’d scanned it.

I enjoyed the great views up high on the ridge before starting down.

The descent was long, hot and somewhat dangerous. But I was happier than some British friends I met who were climbing UP to camp at Frey that night (illegally).

Getting to the tranquil, green, shaded campsite at dusk was wonderful. Plenty of clean water.


day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

Nahuel Huapi Traverse – day 0

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

This is one of the very best hikes in the Andes. But it’s extremely difficult.

AT A GLANCE

  • high level ridge walking with scrambles. Some exposure. And route finding. I wish I’d had a GPS track to follow.
  • Nahuel Huapi is pronounced nah-well-wah-pee
  • December to March are the best months
  • Nahuel Huapi National Park is the oldest in Argentina
  • the tourist mecca jumping off point of San Carlos de Bariloche is a transportation hub
  • convenient city bus service whisks you 20km from Bariloche to the trailhead at Villa Catedral, a popular ski resort 
  • the Traverse — Villa Catedral to Puente Lopez —is only 36.5km (23mi) but they are some of the most difficult trails you’ve hiked
  • it’s easy to shorten this 4 day adventure by exiting early down a number of different valleys

As you probably guessed, I did the entire thing.

Happily, I survived.

Every tourist who travels to Argentina’s lake district spends time in tourist trap Bariloche.

Close together in town are the Tourist Information office, Nahuel Huapi National Park Office and Club Andino Bariloche (CAB) Mountain Info Center.

CAB is the best place to go for information. You can fill out your FREE registration with (guessed) itinerary. There’s no need to stick to that route once you start, however.

If unsure, put down the full Traverse.

he classic (difficult) Traverse has you sleeping 4 nights in the mountains. No reservation for tenting is required except at Frey. 

  1. Refugio Frey  (alternative Cascada if Frey is booked)
  2. Refugio San Martin (Jakob)
  3. Refugio Segre (Italia)
  4. Refugio López

Unless you are exhausted, there’s no need to stop at López. It’s only 3.5km to the highway bus stop near Puente López, walking distance from the town of Colonia Suiza.

I always prefer sleeping in a tent to the alternative: noisy, crowded, dirty communal hut mattresses.

Bariloche has plenty of outdoor stores (camping fuel) and a few large supermarkets. Stock up for your hike. Celebrate with excellent Argentinian gelato.

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | video | info page

 

OK … I’ve downloaded Viewranger

Apps and maps. For the first time I’m going to try navigating with them on the trail.

First download was Viewranger. It’s free for basics. You pay to download specialty maps.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Unfortunately their shop offers none for Chile nor Argentina.

I’m really keen on augmented reality showing me peaks, towns, lakes, cliffs, ridgelines, mountain passes, and even glaciers up to 20 miles away. That’s the Skyline feature available from within ViewRanger.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

It works with my Apple Watch too, though I may never use that feature.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch Alastair Humphreys on YouTube.

Pacific Northwest Trail maps

The Pacific Northwest Trail is 1200 miles long.

The PNTA has worked hard to develop an entirely new map set for 2017. These new maps feature the most up-to-date primary route and recommended alternates available. In addition, they include notes to support planning and logistics.

This map set is designed for use with The Pacific Northwest Trail Digest, 2017 Edition, by Tim Youngbluth. The guidebook and map set reference a common set of waypoints.