Huemul Route, Fitz Roy, Argentina – day 1

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4  | info

One of my big goals for this Patagonia trip was to do the NEWLY popular Huemul Circuit out of El Chaltén, Argentina’s Trekking Capital or Capital Nacional del Trekking. (I do have El Chaltén included in my list of the top 10 hiking towns of the world.)

Huemul is a difficult, remote, wild visit to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the second largest in the world.

Here I call Huemul a route rather than a trail because navigation can be very challenging, especially in low visibility. I got lost 3 times for 1-2 hours, for example. ☹️

As weather was good, I rushed to get on the Huemel the day after my arrival.

NOTHING went right.

For example, after buying the required (and fairly useless) map, I decided to CARBO LOAD 🙄  with a half kilo of gourmet ice-cream. In that short visit I managed to lose my new map. Did it blow away? … And had to go back to the store to buy a replacement. ☹️

I must have walked 20km around town simply trying to get permit, gear and food for the trip. Many businesses still take a 3-4 hour siesta middle-of-the-day in Chaltén. ☹️

I waited for the shops to open to rent my Tyrolean Traverse harness, equipment you are suppose to show while filling out free registration at the National Park information station.

Rangers gave me excellent advice. Warned me of even BIGGER WINDS THAN USUAL forecast for day 2. And had me watch an orientation video for the Huemul.

They DISCOURAGE inexperienced hikers. And recommend you take a guide.

It was nearly 5pm before I started walking up the trail.

One GREAT thing about the Chaltén hikes is that all the popular ones walk out-of and back-to town. There’s no transport needed to get to trailheads.

El Chaltén

It’s an easy start on the well trod Laguna Toro trail. About 15km to reach the campground.

Weird were the hundreds of thousands of caterpillars on this section. Over the 4 days I accidentally touched two — very painful.

Good Luck

If you have time and energy — and the big peaks are clear — consider making the side trip to the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado lookout. That’s at least 3 hours return.

I didn’t have time so climbed up there following the Huemul.

below the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado lookout

The weather was lovely for this part of the world.

Off to my left was glacier fed Lago Viedma. That’s where I’d be finishing the loop.

Most of this adventure is above tree line. But there are a few short sections day 1 through dark and gloomy forest.

When I saw this sign I decided I’d stop short of the official campsite.

So far navigation had been a piece of cake. There are stakes on grass. And some random cairns on the rocky sections.

There’s Laguna Toro below the glacier.

I’d heard some negative reports. Mice at campgrounds are a nuisance, for example. People have died of Hantavirus in the Andes.

Here’s one species of mouse I found dead on the trail.

I set up in a cow pasture with this lovely view to the river.

Wild Camping is not allowed in the National Park. But I couldn’t see any harm.

No fly was required. The night perfectly clear. My best star gazing so far. I did see the Southern Cross.

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4  | info

Walking the Himalayas by Lev Wood

I was disappointed in this book.

Others disagree. It’s got fairly good ratings on GoodReads.

I learned very little about the Himalayas. Indeed most of the book has him nowhere near the mountains. He’s road walking in the lowlands.

I assume Lev’s boring route had to do with logistics for the film crew following along.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel ran much higher trails by comparison.

The book is poorly written too.

He got travel advice from the Dalai Lama. That bit I enjoyed.

And the tale of their vehicle crash was horrific. One of the real dangers of the Himalaya is motor vehicle accident.

related – TV series – Walking the Himalayas

Huemul Circuit, Patagonia

My New Year’s Resolution is to hike the Huemul in 2019.

A loop hike around Cerro Huemul in Patagonia, near Cerro Fitz Roy, Los Glaciares National Park.

Usual itinerary:

Day 1 = El Chalten to Laguna Toro, 15km, 4 hours
Day 2 = Laguna Toro to Paso Viento Refuge, 12km, 5 hours
Day 3 = Refuge to Lago Viedme, 18km, 5 hours
Day 4 = Lago Viedma to Bahia Tunel, 18km, 4 hours.

Plus another 8km (1.5 hours) to El Chalten

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

unreal Tasmanian Winter Traverse

One of the toughest journeys on foot … ever.

Louis-Phillipe Loncke …. This was an epic journey that left him exhausted, pushed to his limits, and 15 kg (33 pounds) lighter than when he set off.

The video below is from a new report aired in Australia that caught up with the Belgian adventurer just as he was crossing the finish line, providing some insights into what this journey was like. …

Adventure Blog

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

tough hike to Kjeragbolten, Norway

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Every hiker has seen photos of the boulder wedged into a Kjerag mountain crevasse above a Norwegian fjord.

That’s 984m (3,228ft) high. It’s a popular site for BASE jumping.

A Russian BASE jumper was walking up at the same time as myself — some like to jump close to sunset — but he kept climbing past this spot to something more exciting.

I’d never heard it was a tough hike to get there.

Here’s the start of the easiest ascent from Øygardsstølen visitors center.

It’s 4-6 hour return over beautiful rocky terrain. Some scrambling. Very slippery. There are plenty of chain assists. I used many of them even in dry weather.

By comparison I would say this is much more challenging than Half Dome in Yosemite. And there are all kinds of inexperienced tourists with poor footwear.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Surprisingly, it sounds like nobody has ever fallen to their death from Kjeragbolten. (Not counting BASE jumpers.)

The boulder is not as death defying as the photos make it look.

In fact, the scramble down a rocky creek to get there is as difficult as climbing out on to that boulder.

Kjeragbolten itself is a 5-cubic-metre (180 cu ft) glacial deposit …

It is a popular tourist destination and is accessible without any climbing equipment. …

Yes, I was pretty happy to finally get here.

If you have a fear of heights, this might not be the best hike for you.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

More photos.