Weather had been "suspiciously good" for the first two days, but
night two, the wind picked up and the next morning brought low clouds and shrieking wind in the trees.
Welcome to Patagonia!
We got back last week from our first Argentina trip. Heidi and I went with our younger and fitter friends Jerry and Angie.
Since I knew enough about Argentina to value better mountain weather and tourist amenities: we went to the Bariloche area.
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I had lined up a five-day "trek" for us in the mountains west of Bariloche with a local outfitter named AndesCross. After a few emails back and forth with the head-guy Jorge: I discovered this was not the luxury, pack-animal supported trek I had come to expect. We would (shudder-gasp) be doing a "backpack trip" and would be sharing loads.
After more emails with Jorge, he lined up a porter (for just a little more money) to carry some of our loads. Jerry & Angie both do cross-country ski racing all winter and were in top shape, and even Heidi and I had trained for the trek, as opposed to our usual winter non-conditioned condition. However, only Jerry wanted to carry a 40-50 lb. pack for 5 days.
After a couple days of getting a "big-city fix" in Buenos Aires, we flew to Bariloche, got picked up by Jorge, who is a climber and local boy, acquired our supply of "nerve tonic" for the trip------and slept restlessly, waiting for our backpack adventure.
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The first two days of the trek were pretty much trail hiking with a long ugly downhill "the bobsled run" on the morning of day 2. Although we were staying in tents, the first night was near a hut and we had cool beer for cocktail hour and flush toilets at the hut.
Jorje had brought his friend Herman as a porter and his American girlfriend Sarah as cook, so we had a variety of folks to talk with on our trek.
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Night two, the wind picked up and the next morning brought low clouds and shrieking wind in the trees.
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Welcome to Patagonia!
Day 3 was going to be "the long day" with two passes, and a trail that existed mostly in Jorje's memories.
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Once we reached the pass, we had the full force of wind hitting us. You had to stay low, and keep a "wide stance" to avoid being blown down. (please---no Senator Larry Craig jokes). We estimated the highest gusts to be around 50 MPH. Luckily, it didn't rain much.
We traversed around the side of a mountain into another valley, then had our first experience of the trip with "light mountaineering" in high winds. Heidi & I both have a climbing background. Jerry & Angie have natural abilities that have been honed in desert canyoneering and mountain backpack trips.
We just did not expect to have rock-climbing in high winds as part of our trekking experience. It was "very invigorating." We now knew why Jorge had been concerned about the possibility of rain. With rain, the rest of our day would have been very, very ugly: as opposed to merely "extremely stimulating."
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So why, you may well ask, are we climbing this mountain?
Well------this is a climbing forum. However
It was much better than the alternative of descending into this valley.
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After a late, but wonderful lunch (Sarah provided great eats for our epic) we ascended a "wet meadow" that was just dry enough-----with some route-finding, that no-one got their feet wet.
Then once again we were on rock with high winds, climbing towards the "Col Crystal". I kept looking for quartz crystals but never found "a keeper." Sarah was more avid and soon had a pocketful.
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Day 4, after a hard overnight frost, we climbed over another pass. This one was pretty pleasant. The wind was present, but not ugly.
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We had a late lunch below the pass and discovered we were back in "cow country." Although livestock is banned in the park, it is good cattle country. With or without the help of local ranchers, the cows range high.
When we first set up the trip with Jorje, I brought up the subject of filtering water. Like every other local source: he said the water "was great."
Night one of our trek, Sarah said she had gotten stomach problems drinking out of the lake we were at: Laguna Negra. The rest of the trip: Sarah and the tourists filtered our water with a Katadyn Hiker Pro microfilter. Bad guts away from home, are such a downer!
We were safe rather than sorry. Jorge finally got interested and accepted our gift of the water filter when we left.
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We again had a lakeside camp, with a beach, and a great view of Monte Tronador for our last night.
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The next morning, with a late start, we hiked the steep trail down to the valley. Only a river crossing of a cold glacial river from Monte Tronador kept us from once again becoming "tourists." (We had only seen two hikers in the last 4 days).
Then Jorje mentioned there was cold beer and lunch at Pampa Linda on the other side of the river.
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So----the rest of our trip was not close to climbing related. But for those readers that are seeking a ST respite from politics, bitterness, or religion-
The weather broke after our trek and was "unsettled" for the next week. After a day of rest, when we wandered Bariloche and bought our chocolate, we rented a car and drove north to San Martin de las Andes-----which many consider the "cool town" in this area. It was a windy and cold day in San Martin.
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We ate our "bag lunch" on the windy beach (had to save money for gourmet dinners you know) and then walked downtown. After that we did a big drive through an area that seemed a lot like South Idaho.
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The weather stayed "uncertain" the rest of our trip, but we managed a day hike up to the "Frey Hut" where no-one was climbing, due to wind and rain.
Our whitewater rafting was cancelled, but Jerry and I managed a windy day of drift-boat fishing on the huge river that drains Lago Nahuel Huapi, with a guide recommended by a friend.
Ivo the guide, had been fishing in Southern-Patagonia and was a little tough to get in touch with. He finally showed up at our hotel room for cocktail hour, and informed us that he had been fishing all week with the legendary billioneer Ted Turner. Someone stammered: "you're Ted Turner's fishing guide?"
Ivo replied: "I wish I was his fishing guide, I'm his ski guide."
Ivo was a good, and entertaining fishing guide for us.
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Then it was back to Buenos Aires and one more night in the big city. Of course, the women wanted to go to a Tango venue. It was a dinner show, and shortly after we sit down, the manager came for us.
He said "you are from the U.S."
We replied: "Si"
He said; "You are from Idaho."
We replied "Si"
He said; "Do you know western swing dancing?"
With some hesitation, we agreed that we were acquainted with it.
We were then carried off and introduced to two Tango Performers and forced to work with them on "swing dance" moves.
Our reward was this photo.
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A tough adventure for us "old farts."
Great trip report! Sure to bring many smiles and chuckles to ST.
Monrovia, CA Mar 30, 2010 - 11:30pm PT
Awesome! I can't wait to go next year!
लघिमा Mar 31, 2010 - 12:28am PT
That cloud cap on Lanin volcano is phenomenal.
BITD2 Mar 31, 2010 - 07:20am PT
Well. . . YAY!
Thanks for postin' up!
New Durham, NH Mar 31, 2010 - 07:25am PT
What an awesome adventure! That trout photo got my blood a boiling...
BC Mar 31, 2010 - 07:45am PT
Great trip choice. It brought back many fine memories from some time spent there in those hills a decade ago.I had heard about that and similar traverses - nice to see what it was like.
That first picture of the wildly serrated skyline.... that is some of the finest granite on the planet,
3 to 6 pitches and a few nine pitch. Based out of a beautiful stone hut run by good people serving wine and spagetti every evening. kind of a kinder, gentler patagonia meets j- tree
barbequing "wild" cattle with the gaucho's at pampa linda is a must as well! Chochamo isn't too far away across the border in chile either. This whole zone is high on my list for a return visit.
thanks fritz for rekindling the memory vault!
Truckee, CA Mar 31, 2010 - 08:45am PT
Toyota Tacoma Mar 31, 2010 - 09:09am PT
Frey, Nahuel Huapi Traverse, Condors, Tronodor, that place is pure magic. Thanks for sharing!
Bostonia Mar 31, 2010 - 09:24am PT
Thats one hell of a nice fish Fritz!
BC Mar 31, 2010 - 09:44am PT
I was there just before their big economic disaster. Any body know how the Argies are doing these days?
Back to the spires.... the left spire, right skyline (the Campanelle - sp?) has one of the greatest 10'a's in the world
perhaps the universe
Boulder, Colorado! Mar 31, 2010 - 09:58am PT
Looks like fun - for someone else! Ha! (All that walking - blargh). Thanks for sharing.
Training for the Blue Tape Route on Half Dome Mar 31, 2010 - 10:06am PT
I loved it, Fritz!!!
Great photos (many of which reminded me of all my "warm-n-sunny" adventures in Alaska--LOL!) and humorous commentary--you could write about shopping in Watts and I'd still enjoy it.
Thanks all for posting up. When I did this last night, it was getting late and I forgot photos of Frey Hut area.
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Also a belated thank you to Prod and his wife who gave us good beta on Bariloche. Their fav dinning spot was also ours: El Boliche de Alberto, the lakeside location seemed friendlier than the downtown one. Best steak I've ever had! They do fill up later at night, since they are the local's favorite.
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Also: we do highly recommend Andes Cross and Jorje for a guide service. He guides climbing and backcountry skiing too. This man is smart, patient, tough, and pretty damn nice. email@example.com
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific Apr 1, 2010 - 12:53am PT
Ah Fritz, you always know how to have a good time.
Dodge Sprinter Dreaming Apr 1, 2010 - 06:54am PT
I was just thinking of you on my drive to work this morning Fritz. Great to put a face to name. Looks like you had an awesome trip. I plan on sending your TR to my mom and step mother as a nudge for them to give the treking a shot. My mom has done about 1/2 of the AT.
I miss this place, and that woman. (She is in Denver working, I move there in a week and a 1/2)
Ouray, Colorado Apr 1, 2010 - 07:29am PT
Nice TR and pics! Tell Jerry I said hello. I think he was one of the better people I worked with in the outdoor industry. Come a little further south to Lago General Carrera and visit us next time.
SoCal Apr 1, 2010 - 07:37am PT
Great idea! A summer vacation in the winter.
Monrovia, CA Apr 1, 2010 - 08:48am PT
So do you know why that big lake is called 'Arm of Sorrow'?
Maybe an Argentine version of Lake Wobegon?
Guido: Trust me: the trip was “a sufferfest.” I think this photo illustrates the fact.
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Donini: I’m going out and knock off 50 pull-ups right now. When you visit in August bring some photos, or a CD, or a slide show. I'll be done with the 50 pull-ups by then.
Reilly: You do have a sharp eye. Brazo De La Tristeza is an arm of the huge lake, the National Park is named for: Lago Nahuel Huapi. I would be sorrowful if I fell off one of the big cliffs that tower over, what is essentially a fiord.
Yes! Nahuel Huapi is a Mapuche Indian word that the guidebook says means “island of the tiger.” (Jaguars have been hunted out of the area).
And finally, since no-one more qualified has commented on Bruce Kay’s question?
Better than during the early 2000's meltdown, when their currency inflated to oblivion and those with savings in Argentian currency lost everything.
There is inflation, and lots of political fighting, (reminded me of the crap happening in the U.S), but things seem OK. None of the locals we befriended were bitching. They do like Yankee dollars.
It is not a super-bargain destination, but is a heck of a lot cheaper than Europe, in what is essentially a European environment. Best example I can reliably cite for pricing: is our first night dinner at Boliche de Albertos. We split the huge entrees and had salads and a side dish, a few glasses of beer, and a bottle of mid-priced wine. A whole lot of food & drink for $57.30 U.S. for 4 people.
BC Apr 1, 2010 - 06:57pm PT
they're back to normal then. thanks.
Fritz - did you really manage to avoid doing battle with the dreaded Lingus?
Hagerman, ID Topic Author's Reply - Apr 1, 2010 - 10:08pm PT
Fritz - did you really manage to avoid doing battle with the dreaded Lingus?
Bruce?? Is that the beech forest? Lenga?
Or is it something we didn't battle? Horsefly season was supposed to be over, and I have read they are horrible in summer, but we only had a few retarded (I mean challenged) horseflys to deal with.
BC Apr 1, 2010 - 10:56pm PT
the lingus (sp?) is all that green stuff in your pictures. The argentinian version of slide alder.
If your guide didn't introduce you to it he deserves a pretty big tip.
thats what we were told it was called. They also called us Pendeho, a term of endearment, i think.
Bruce: I think we are talking the same vegetation. Ranges from a tree to a shrub. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenga_Beech
On day 3 & 4 of the adventure we had some pretty tight passages through Lenga in its "slide alder" form. We always had a slight trail though, generally with mud-holes at strategic spots.
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Durham, NC Apr 2, 2010 - 08:51am PT
Love the Quilmes in the first photo!! Awesome fun. Thanks for sharing.
Boulder, Colorado! Apr 2, 2010 - 09:45am PT
Made me laugh out loud Bruce! Hahaha!!
BC Apr 2, 2010 - 10:28am PT
yes fritz and i think you're right about it really being called Lenga
somehow when we were there it became corrupted to Lengus. Now that I think of it that may have come from the term Cuni - lengas, which in turn probably came from battling through vast forests of giant pendeho.
Nevada City, CA Apr 2, 2010 - 11:42am PT
Great report! Brought back some great memories.
It took a while for the two posts comparing the first photo in this thread to
Finally I understand. Good cheap beer, I just never saw it in a 6-pack.
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Since the birth of Quilmes beer in 1888, Argentines of all tastes have come to view Quilmes lager as a relic of national identity. A pilsner type beer brewed by Cerveceria y Malteria Quilmes, Quilmes beer is the most popular beer in Argentina.
Quilmes beer is brewed using local hops, malt and Patagonian water and is famous for it`s sponsorship links with Argentinean football and Argentina`s national game of polo.
Trad climber Apr 2, 2010 - 01:08pm PT
Nice Brown by the way- beautiful fish.
Charlevoix, MI Apr 2, 2010 - 05:40pm PT
Great TR - I'm so happy you guys had a good trip. Did you have quite a bit of stormy weather? I wish I could be at the Frey hut having a Berlina cervesa rubia, eating a sausage and cheese sammy and playing cribbage with my hub Prod. Maybe the next Sushi Fest should be at the Frey!
Christa: Thank you for the Bariloche info you sent us before the trip.
I think our weather was far better than during your summer trip. We were in Bariloche area 9 full days (not counting fly in and out days) and had 4 really nice days, and 5 days that were mixed. Mixed days, in the mountains were windy, and sometimes rainy.
We never had a full day of rain, or any snow----so I think we were lucky for weather. I wore shorts for the first two days of our trek! Woohoo!
I forgot to mention in the thread: after the wet summer, the wildflowers were still great.
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Big Wall climber
Reno NV Apr 2, 2010 - 09:09pm PT
Nice Brownie too!!!