The Treks!

DSC_0185  So the first trek started at Colonia Suiza, climbing to Laguna Negra/Refugio Italia, and return.  The clouds closed in part way up.

DSC_0211  But not even that could stop us from taking several hundred photo stops along the way.  

DSC05750  At one stage Russell forged ahead.  Soon we started seeing strange ancient Argentinean tribal markings, smiley faces in the dirt track, and these odd petrified snowball type things.....  We knew we were on the right track.

DSC_0199  Our goal was at the top right of this picture.

DSC05762  Now on the way up we realised something was up when the calm sunny day, turned into a howling, gusty, freezing day.  They say Patagonian weather can change abruptly, and it did.  We had to cross the lip of the lake to get to the refugio, and with the wind gusting maybe 40-50 knots, it made crossing the wet slippery stones problematic to say the least.  Now the waterfall (two pictures above), started just to the right of this picture.  By like 2'.  So the thought of being blown off balance and ending up as shredded tartare at the bottom did cross my mind.  However, I adopted the drop-and-hug-the-stones-on-all-fours-while-praying technique as you can see.  Clint directed operations (while Misty was shouting out 'grab his leg').

DSC_0217  So with life threatening dramas averted for yet another day, the intrepid quartet settled into Refugio Italia for a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich.  The caretakers live there from November till April, as the weather closes in at other times making continual habitation impossible.  An overnight stay is recommended, this one makes their own beer (as well as bread and pizzas)!

DSC05770  5378' at cold, cold Laguna Negra.  Total time was 8 hours and we covered 10.2 miles, climbing 4600'.

DSC_0292  The second trek, some days later,  was a circuit from the top of Cerro Catedral (a ski station in winter), across a scree slope, upwards to 7100', and down back along the edge of the mountain to the car park.  That covered 9.4 miles, ~8 hours but only 2500' climbed.  So over the two days we climbed just over 7000'.  We also slept very well on those nights.

DSC_0324  The view from the top.  Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind, you really do feel as if you are on top of the world.

DSC_0296  A cardboard cut-out of us at the top.  As we left this spot, my phone rang...... (Victor, that was you calling).

DSC_0319  As you cut across the top and down the scree slope at the back, this cherry sign greets you.  They have a big thing with knowing blood type as well, presumably in case of accidents.  The white water rafting release asked for blood type.  Clint wrote 'malbec'.

DSC_0313  Cool hand Luke.

DSC_0331  Tronador, the highest mountain in this part of the world.  Named for the sound the ice makes as it breaks.  It has seven glaciers feeding from it.  Fortunately, we didn't see any, we were still 3000' lower than its peak.

Now in case you ever want to trek to Tronador, Russell can give advice.  He did it after we had left.  Twelve trekkers set out that day for a three day tour, a three day tour........

DSC05816  Very craggy.

IMG_9445  There has to be a silly picture somewhere, and this is one (of the dozens) we took!

IMG_9454  Clint helping Misty up a tough section.

IMG_9424  Um, do we go this way, or that way...........?

IMG_9472  More group pics on top of the world.

DSC_0341  So after climbing over the top, crossing a scree slope for nearly two hours, scrambling up the jagged rocks, through 'the football field', we have to cross a bloody ice field!  Trekking is so unfair.

DSC_0346  But this was on the other side, and so incredible.

DSC_0350  I had the camera nearly in the water taking this one.

DSC_0351  Chivalry isn't dead, even at altitude.

IMG_9515  Laguna Tonceck, our mid way point, with the refugio Frey in the far distance.  This was about 4 miles of the 9.4.

DSC_0361  Laguna Tonceck.

IMG_9523  Another welcome break in the refugio.

IMG_9549  On the way down.  Always time for a tender moment.

DSC_0381  Two tired, but happy, little teddy bears at the end of the trek.