Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

El Chaltѐn

Just a couple hours North of El Califate by bus is the much smaller town of El Chaltѐn (~500 people, ~500 feet, 49° south latitude) which is the jumping off point for some quite famous trekking and mountain climbing destinations.  It’s also significantly more expensive than many of my other stops, so I took an early morning bus to get in a hike, spend one night, take another full day of hiking, and then take the long bus the next night to Barlioche.

The young Israelis on the bus were so obnoxious (this is an ongoing topic that must be explored in detail later) that I ended up paying twice what I had intended for a private room in a quiet B&B just to ensure I would avoid future contact.  After dropping my bags, I headed out of town and up to Cerro Torre.  The total trip was 22 km and I made it up in 2.5 hours and returned in just 2 hours, thanks to Tool and Rob Zombie on The World’s Largest iPod ™.  It feels so good to get out and moving again.



The second day, I headed up to Fitz Roy, considered by many to be the holy grail of rock climbing and a “must see” if you are in this part of Patagonia.  The map says it will be 25 km round trip and roughly 4 hours each way.  I have 12 hours to burn before my bus, so this should be an easy one.

First hour:  Constant, but moderate ascent.  Take off the shoes for 5 minutes at the first viewpoint and chow down on a banana and an apple (aren’t you proud, Grandma!) while I let the passionate throbbing of The Foot calm a bit.

Next hour and twenty minutes:  Relatively flat prairie.  A lot of ground to cover considering I’m favoring one leg pretty heavily, but the weather is incredibly cooperative and keeps the spirits up.

Last hour:  1200 feet straight fucking up.  Seriously unpleasant.  Some people took 3 hours to do this section alone.  (Thank god I still have my Cusco lungs.)  But the payoff is Fitz Roy:



The wind was so calm and the temperature so perfect that I actually fell asleep on a rock for an hour before I had some lunch and mentally prepared for the descent.  At this point, I realize I am stupid (per usual) and have taken on way too much here considering the condition of The Foot.  After all, I am less than a week out from a second-degree burn covering about 30 percent of it.  There are two ways to go about this:  One is to take my time and slowly limp my way down to try and prevent further injury.  Two is to get it over with and get the fuck out of there as quickly as possible.  You know where this is going…

Thanks to Austrian Death Machine on The World’s Largest iPod ™ and dreams of cold cerveza, I ran down the mountain in 2 hours, 40 minutes, fortunately saving the horrific and inevitable ankle sprain for the last kilometer.  But that beer really was, at that moment when I hit the bottom, the best fucking beer the world has ever known.  Forty seven kilometers over two days with only one leg…I think that calls for three big beers before getting on the 28 hour bus ride to Bariloche!



5 Responses to “El Chaltѐn”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictures CJ! Really breath-taking. Hossman

  2. LeeH says:

    I am so incredibly jealous. How amazing. I can almost smell the mountain air. Lucky bastard!

  3. Jody says:

    you look perfect in a backdrop of dazzling mountain peaks and rays of light…

  4. rtousley53 says:

    In f'ing credible, Casey

  5. Rita says:

    This is Gali's mom writing …I was so happy to see Gali in some of the pictures! It was absolutely surreal story and all well that ends well. Thanks for telling about all that and have a wonderful time in your future travels !

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