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

 

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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 2

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles 

Cascada to Refugio San Martin (Jakob)

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

Seems I forgot to take many photos on day 2. My first priority was video.

Oops.

As I’d camped at Cascada rather than Frey I counted myself ahead of schedule. No rush today.

I enjoyed the morning. Wandered the boggy grasslands.

In the afternoon I was surprised by the difficult, steep climb to reach Brecha Negra pass.

The descent was even worse. Dangerous.

But arriving at the alpine lake was wonderful. It’s a lovely spot.

Here is the old Refugio San Martin (Jakob). It burned down in 2017.

The replacement was well underway when I was there February 2018.

Hikers without tents slept and ate in temporary structures.

The highlight of the day was scrambling up to Laguna Los Tempanos, a glacial meltwater lake. It reminded me of places in the Rockies.

Surprisingly, I had the place to myself at dusk.

Tomorrow’s route climbs up this impossibly steep face. I had no idea how it could possibly be done.

This evening I hung out at camp enjoying the stars with 4 other Canadians. Two wanted to continue with me on the difficult day 3 ahead. Two wanted to exit down the valley, worried because they’d already found the easier days very difficult.

In the end, they decided to end their hike next day. Safety first.


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

Elfin Lakes hike, Squamish B.C.

22km round trip to Elfin Lakes campground (600m gain) + Gargoyles side trip
• LOTS of snow at the end of July
• be prepared for very wet trails
• BUGGY !
• registration online or by phone required to stay overnight

From the start I had problems. First finding the trailhead out of Squamish, B.C. – street signage is not all that clear. I asked different mountain bikers to find the right gravel road.

Elfin Lakes is popular. The parking lot was full. I squeezed my rent-a-car in on the side of the approach.

The first 5km to Red Heather Meadows campground is a road.

You share most of this trail with mountain bikers. And chipmunks.

Breaking out of the trees first vista is impressive Diamond Head. Actually, that’s Atwell Peak. Many make the same mistake I did.

We’d enjoyed dry sunny weather for weeks at this point. Still many parts of the trail were wet with snow melt. Some sections have been improved.

On a hot day like this, walking snow fields was fun.

I’d read the hike was on Paul Ridge. True. But it’s not a ridge walk. Normally you are on one side of the ridge or the other, not the top.

Elfin Lakes campground. A beautiful scene.

You can sleep in a large shelter or tent on one of these side slope platforms.

Elfin Lakes are not lakes, they are meltwater ponds. One for drinking water. One for … swimming.

Earlier in the week a mouse had somehow gotten into my Ursack food bag while up on the line, so I switched to a dry bag.

I enjoyed a siesta in my tent (escaping the voracious bugs) and was sluggish getting going for the recommended side trip to the Gargoyles.

Here’s the trail from Camp leading to the Gargoyles. More interesting but wetter than the Elfin Lakes approach.

Climbing up to the Pass was easy but long. Snow conditions good, you simply walked in footprints or kicked in your own steps.

Looking over to the other side.

A trail runner came down recommending I scramble the Gargoyles.

Instead I listened to my audiobook and relaxed.

The next 3 hikers arrived keen to climb. One had been here before. I climbed up the first Gargoyle to take some photos. Wow.

Suddenly inspired I scrambled the ridge myself to the end to get to this view – scenery reminding me of the Himalayas.

That’s the 11.5km trail continuing to the new Rampart Ponds Campground (Mamquam Lake Campground is permanently closed).

Tempting.

See all my high resolution photos.

Guidebook – 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia

 

 

 

Hardergrat: best hike in the world?

I’d never heard of Hardergrat. And I edit the site called BestHike. 🙂

How good could it be?

VERY good. A ridge 12 miles long.

Brendan Leonard:

The entire hike, from the base of the Harder Kulm train on the west end, to the Brienz Rothorn station on the east end, is 27 miles, with 10,200 feet of elevation gain—5,200 feet of that elevation gain in ups and downs after the halfway point, the summit of the Augstmatthorn.

It is a punishing, but beautiful day, along a sculpted mountain spine towering over two lakes, and paralleling the snowy Alps just six miles south as the crow flies. The best part might be the solitude: the heady terrain and committing nature keep the crowds away.

HARDERGRAT: THE BEST HIKE IN THE WORLD?

Start : Interlaken, Switzerland /   Finish : Brienzer Rothorn Station, train down to Brienz

 

 

Chelsea and Joseph complete the GR 20

The Meandering Mayans just posted their 2017 trip report:

Though the trail doesn’t offer the “classic” high Alpine experience, it makes up for it with crazy amounts of bare rock, stunning sunsets and mountain top sea views. …

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting for a trail than the semi-autonomous French island of Corsica.

With a single mountain chain occupying almost two-thirds of the island, Corsica is a rugged place that hosts miles of beautiful beaches and untamed wilderness. The GR 20 spans roughly 180km, North to South …

Charcuterie, Wine and Hard Miles: A Walk Across Corsica – the GR 20

Most hike north to south. The Mayans preferred south to north.

With this information we’ve updated our GR 20 information page.