El Chalten, Argentina is the jumping off point for two of Patagonia's biggest and most famous mountains: Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. A quaint little adventure town, El Chalten has more backpacker hostels than houses, only a few paved streets and no less than 4 outdoor gear shops and 2 microbreweries. Think Mos Eisley from Star Wars; this is a jumping off point for adventurers and climbers from all over the world. It's my kind of place.
As Stacey and I arrived, our rented VW van (a.k.a. Home) conveniently broke down. There's really no place I'd rather be stuck for a few days. The weather forecast was for a night of calm before the next storm rolled in, so we packed up the tent and stove and headed up the nine kilometer trail to Lago Torre at the base of Cerro Torre.
Any concern about Stacey being six months pregnant dissolved as we started the trek. What a trooper! It was a blast climbing alongside waterfalls, under high alpine forest with fresh spring leaves, through a burned section of woods and finally into the high alpine ice and snow below Cerro Torre.
If the surrounding peaks look like Patagonia's teeth, Cerro Torre is the fang. Standing at it's base you have no doubt why mountaineers believed it unclimbable for so long. The sheer granite walls rise thousands of feet only to be capped by a crazy ice mushroom formed from the relentless southern winds. One thing is for sure: it is spectacularly beautiful.
We had an incredible time. The mountain gave us a rare calm night up there. The lake reflected, the stars put on a show, clouds came in the morning, we met a Magelanic Woodpecker in the woods and got out right before the next storm rolled in. Perfect.