Patagonia is a place I’ve romanticized ever since I saw the documentary, A Line Across the Sky, at a Reel Rock event in Nashville, TN on October 15th, 2015. Two famous rock climbers, Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold, climbed the Fitz Roy Traverse in 72 hours. It was crazy, inspiring, and unbelievable. Tommy and Alex climbed pretty well too. Needless to say, I was enamored with the striking Fitz Roy range and promised myself I would see the Fitz Roy in person one day.
I decided to book my Patagonia trip for January 2017. No matter my severe time off work deficit and the fact that I’d only returned from my 6 week India trip a mere 8 weeks prior. Y.O.L.O. You only live once.
My expectations were high for Patagonia. Patagonia met and then subsequently exceeded my expectations.
My friend, Anubha, and I arrived in El Calafate, Argentina on January 17th, 2017 and took a 3 hour bus ride to El Chalten. El Chalten sits at the base of the Fitz Roy range and is a quaint, quiet, climbing town of about 1000 residents. I LOVED the vibe. Climbers and backpackers were everywhere. Hiking was easily accessible from town. The food was great and the Malbec wine…Oh. My. Goodness, the wine! Anubha and I considered opening up a food truck business in El Chalten. Very tempting. However, the wind would be a deterrent for me.
To be honest, I was only really outside my comfort zone one time on this trip, and it was an encounter with the Patagonia Wind. The wind in Patagonia should not be underestimated.
Our group hiked a short, fairly steep hike to a close vantage point of Mt. Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy was in the clouds, but we could see the glacier fed, blue-green lake at the base. Once on top of the ridge, the wind began to get rowdy. I could not stand on my own and was thrown to the ground. We huddled behind a boulder and stepped out briefly to take pictures. Our guide, Fabio, led us over the ridge towards the water. As I stepped over the ridge to descend, gusts of wind lifted me (like seriously lifted me) and I was very nearly hovering over the ground. It was unsettling; however, I was not quite outside my level of comfort just yet.
As we left the glaciated lake and met the rest of our group on top of the ridge, the wind decided to get angry. I couldn’t stand up; I held onto a nearby boulder and ducked down. I’ve never felt something so powerful before; the wind was toying with me. After a brief reprieve, I managed to carefully walk down the other ridge. Fabio told me to keep going, so I did. I knew the wind could strengthen again at any moment. I hopped and balanced from rock to rock as I descended, dancing with the wind. Then all of a sudden, I hit the deck. The wind smashed me to the ground. I looked back up and the rest of the group hadn’t moved; they were still at the top of the ridge. I had no cover where I was and so I carefully made my way towards nearby boulders.
I cautiously waited and was a little scared to move. The fierce 60 + mph wind could have easily thrown me down the mountain. In fact, Fabio helped a father walk his two little girls down the trail as the wind picked the girls up and knocked them down.
In the end, we all returned safely to the base. As they say in Patagonia, it was just another Patagonian day.
We made our way back to our campsite by the river where we were rewarded with views of Mt. Fitz Roy. It was absolutely spectacular. Mesmerized by the stunning view, I could have stared for hours. I only wish my puppy Fitz Roy could have been there to see Mt. Fitz Roy with me.
Anubha and I trekked with a company called Adventure Life, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The scenery was breathtaking. The stars, blue skies, glaciers, rainbows, lakes, greenery, the town of El Chalten, and of course, Mt. Fitz Roy were just a few highlights of the trip. I’ll keep this post short and let the pictures speak for themselves. Patagonia, I will be back!