Cerro Torre Trek
Length: 24km (5 hours)
Hardest bit: Gentle slope up through scree at the very end.
Season: October – May
Refreshments: Not till you’re back in El Chalten. Take a picnic to eat at the lake / Parking: Anywhere along the road (RN23) by the trail-head / Website (English) / Map with pictures; Map with distances; Minimalist map
To get the most out of this trek you should first read about the hot-tempered history of climbing Cerro Torre.
1. All the paths are off to the left side (west) as you enter El Chalten. There are two different trail-heads for this walk: one starts from the dirt roads just north of El Chalten on RN23, beyond the bank and to the right of the rock bluff; the other starts with a series of carved-out steps to the left of the rock bluff, where the tarmac roads are, and goes via a dam. Both trails become one after 5 mins. Look out for the big wooden sign saying “Senda a Laguna Torre”.
2. The path goes through beech woods and enters the gorge of the Fitzroy river. After around 1 hour 45 minutes you reach the Laguna Torre viewpoint, from where you can see Cerro Torre. This is almost halfway.
3. The path continues down to the valley floor, following the Fitzroy river, and after 45 minutes you arrive at a signposted fork. This is where those wanting to trek across to Mt. Fitzroy and the Poncenot campsite leave the trail (this path is usually closed).
4. After another 30 minutes of following the river you reach the De Agostini (formerly Bridwell) campsite, base camp for Cerro Torre.
5. Walk up 10 minutes or so on the path winding through the rocky moraine to Laguna Torre and enjoy the view (but wrap up warm!).
[Note: you can keep on walking up and to the right of the lake to a spot called the Maestri viewpoint. The walk is quite steep and requires at least another 2 hours.]
[Note: you are not supposed to go on the path that goes to the left of the lake to the glacier without a guide.]
6. Head back the same way, all the way to El Chalten.