… The route is long, rough and remote — the trailhead from Escalante, Utah takes 2 to 3 hours to get to during periods of good weather — and you still have to navigate 8-9 miles off-trail through fully-exposed sand and sage brush, across slickrock, and up and down rutted desert ravines.
Don’t be fooled by the name either. This long, exposed hike is not really through a canyon …
Distance: 16-18 miles out-and-back (26-29 km)
Days Needed: 2 days
Peak Elevation: 4,466 ft.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,234 ft.
Best Travel Time: Late March to May and September to October
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.