4. 8 Southern Patagonian Ice Field expedition – great circuit

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Exploring Patagonia since 1985

4.8 Southern Patagonian Ice Field EXPEDITION – GREAT CIRCUIT

(El Chaltén – Marconi Pass – Huemul Pass – El Chaltén)
The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is, may be, one of the least known places on earth. It is still a dream for explorers and climbers who are looking for new horizons and strong sensations, coupled with a real and direct contact with the wilderness.

For this reason, we offer you an expedition that follows in the footsteps of those great explorers, entering in a world of immense dimension where ice and rock are the principal characters.


Los Glaciares National Park – El Chaltén Area – Santa Cruz Province - Argentina


November to February

  • 04 - 12 November 2006

  • 02 - 10 December 2006

  • 16 – 24 December 2006

  • 06 - 14 January 2007

  • 27 January – 04 February 2007

  • 17 - 25 February 2007

IMPORTANT: This is the only program the Fitz Roy Expediciones develops with scheduled dates, to set up the groups with passengers of different provenances. Even though this dates, we feature all our programs for private groups.


9 days in total (7 trekking-days and 1 extra day to be used in case of bad weather). The arrival day is used to check the expedition equipment.

Size of Group

Max. 12; (Fitz Roy Expediciones reserves the right to cancel an expedition 30 days before the scheduled date of departure if the participants are less than four)
Difficulty Grade

D – Tough:

  • Long walks of 6 to 10 hours.

  • The clients have to carry his/her equipment, and often part of the general equipment. (Personal porters can be arranged).

  • Moderate to big drops in altitude (1330 to 3000 ft - 400 to 900 m).

  • Lodging in camps or in mountain huts (twin share accommodation).

  • Physically very demanding.

  • Is not necessary some previous technical mountaineering experience.

  • Previous experience of trekking and camping is required.

  • We recommend aerobic training before the trip.


Camp and Hotel / Lodges


Day 1: Upon your arrival to El Chaltén, a small village of 300 inhabitants at the foot of Cerro Fitz Roy and Torre, a Fitz Roy Expediciones guide will meet you. Briefing about the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, features of the program, and details of the use of the equipment provided by Fitz Roy Expediciones. Check out of the equipment that we have to carry during the traverse. Accommodation in Hotel/Lodge.

Day 2: The day begins with a private transfer to the bridge over Eléctrico River, 15 Km northwest of El Chaltén, and the start point of our trek towards the base of Marconi Glacier. We will walk the first two hours on a well-marked path, through a forest of Lengas and Ñires, alongside Eléctrico River. At the end of the vegetation, we stop few minutes in Piedra Del Fraile campsite (Refugio Los Troncos – property of Estancia Ricanor), last encounter with civilization before our return to El Chaltén, at the end of the expedition. We will then enter into a great glacier valley surrounded by Treinta Aniversario, Marconi South, and North Peaks. From Piedra Del Fraile, we will follow the southern shore of Lake Eléctrico, crossing moraines and rocky formations left by the glaciers less than 70 years ago. Along the way, we will cross Pollone River walking, from where we will be able to observe the North-west face of Fitz Roy. One more hour of trekking will bring us to the western shore of Lake Eléctrico. We will set-up our camp there, only 20 minutes away from Marconi Glacier. After a well-earned rest, we might have some extra energy to explore the area. Full board. The participants, guides and other FRE supporting staff will carry the equipment and food.

Walking time: 6 hours,

Distance to cover: 6 Km,

Altitude drop: 150 ft (50 m).

Day 3: We will wake up with dawn, to start our daily routine of the expedition: breakfast, packing up of camp and backpacks, and trekking… Only 30 minutes of walking will bring us in front of the Marconi Glacier. A gigantic scree moraine is our first obstacle; the terrain here is unstable and moves constantly, impeding the formation of a marked path. After this short but difficult stretch, we will climb on the glacier itself entering slowly in a kingdom of snow and ice. This day might be the toughest of the expedition. We will climb 2400 ft (800 m) on ice and snow, using crampons, and round crevasses with the assistance of the guide and his team – with the aid of ropes if necessary. Marconi Glacier forms a pass that creates a bottle effect with the winds coming from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the Pacific Ocean. Hence, participants will need to be not only physically, but also mentally prepared to trek in a rain or snowstorm. At the end of the day, we will arrive at our second campsite, in the shadow of Marconi South Mt and only an hour away from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field itself. Our almost aerial campsite offers fantastic sunsets and sunrises over the Fitz Roy Range, Cerro Pier Giorgio, and Gorra Blanca. Full board.

Walking Time: 7 to 9 hours,

Distance: 10 Km,

Altitude drop: 2400 ft (800 m).

Day 4: In the morning, we will cross the Marconi Pass. Guide and assistants will use sledge for the first time, carrying most of the general equipment (tents, food, gas…). Only an hour of trekking with snowshoes will bring us into a land of rock and ice. The Patagonian Ice Field will open itself up giving away fantastic views (if weather permits) of Lautaro Volcano (still active), Mariano Moreno Range (almost higher and much larger than Fitz Roy Range), the De Los Cuatro Glaciares Pass and Chico Glacier, further south. A day of southbound trekking on the ice field to the "Circo De Los Altares", at the foot of the mythic Cerro Torre's West face, take us to the place where we will set up our camp on the ice. Full board. Walking time: 6 hours,

Distance: 12 Km,

Altitude drop: -300 ft (-100 m).

Day 5: Trekking to De Los Esquíes lagoon, on the lateral moraine of Viedma Glacier – where we will exit the ice itself. If the weather and the physical condition of the participants permit, we will continue up to Paso Del Viento Hut. Camp. Full board.

Walking time: 8 hours,

Distance: 14 Km,

Altitude drop: -750 ft, +750 ft (-250 m, +250 m).

Day 6: Rest day in the campsite near the hut. Full board.

Day 7: The last year, after several expeditions, we have decided to continue the trip following Viedma Glacier towards Lake Viedma, instead of climb Del Viento Pass to go to El Chaltén. This new possibility offered by Fitz Roy Expediciones, makes the trek more interesting and attractive, keeping sight of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and Viedma Glacier for two more days.

This part of the expedition follows the slope of Cerro Huemul and surrounds it. Andean steppe, lakes, and marvelous viewpoints accompany us towards Paso Huemul, where we will set up camp. Spectacular aerial views of the Glacier entering into Lake Viedma will reward us. Full board.

Walking time: 6/7 hours.

Distance: 8 Km

Altitude drop: +600 ft, -300 ft (+200 m, -100 m).

Day 8: Trekking down to Lake Viedma and Cabo de Hornos Bay, where we will embark on the boat HUEMUL for our return to Bahía Túnel, 30 minutes away by minibus from El Chaltén.

Distance: 5 Km

Altitude drop: -1800 ft (-600 m).

Day 9: Spare day to be used during the trek (Just in case that we need to stay in a campsite for more than one day, due to bad weather). If this day is not used, a dinner and a night in a hotel in El Chaltén is included in the service on day 8.
Included in the price

  • Mountain guides and assistant (1 assistant up to 4 participants, 2 assistants up to 8 participants, 3 assistants up to 10 participants)

  • Radio communication with our office in El Chaltén, and G.P.S. (global positioning system).

  • Double tents, cooking equipment and utensils.

  • Mountain equipment (ropes, harnesses, carabiners, maps, compass, etc.)

  • Crampons and technical equipment for the participants.

  • Transfer to the bridge over Eléctrico River and back to El Chaltén.

  • Boat transfer to Bahía Túnel, and minibus to El Chaltén.

  • Accommodation:

Day 1: Hotel/Lodge (Twin rooms with private bath) - Day 2 to Day 7: Camp (Double tents) – Day 8: If necessary, Camp (Double tents) or hotel in El Chaltén.

  • Meals:
    Day 2 to Day 7: Breakfast, Box Lunch, Dinner – Day 8: Breakfast, Box Lunch.

Not Included

  • Personal Equipment.

  • Transfers in/out El Chaltén.

  • Services not mentioned in this program.

  • Drinks in restaurants, and extra drinks.

  • Tips.

Note / Observations

Participants do not need technical experience in the use of crampons or snowshoes. However, we ask for previous experience in camping and trekking of several days. The equipment and food are prepared in function of the expedition. Participants will be self-sufficient in the preparation of their meals and set-up of camp with the help of our staff before and during the expedition.

The itinerary starts and ends in El Chaltén.

Extra days will be used in case of adverse climatic conditions.

FITZ ROY EXPEDICIONES E.V.yT. Leg. 9317 - Los Glaciares National Park Operator (Disposición Nº 103/96)

www.fitzroyexpediciones.com.ar / info@fitzroyexpediciones.com.ar

Lionel Terray 212 – El Chaltén (9301) – Santa Cruz – Patagonia – Argentina

Tel / Fax: National calls: 02962-493017 or 02293-406540 / International calls: ++54 2962-493017 or ++54 02293-406540

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