And the Next Big Adventure is…

Can We Top the Tour du Mont Blanc? Our 2019 Adventure!

Having completed the ambitious Tour du Mont Blanc, it’s time to reveal what the NEXT adventure will be for Brian and Sylvia! We have carefully considered all the prospective destinations and the winner is…

PATAGONIA!

You may not have been to Patagonia, but if you have ever picked up a copy of National Geographic Magazine, it’s likely you have seen parts of it. by Michael George, National Geographic Magazine.

One of the world’s greatest, wildest and most magical areas. Patagonia is the Alaska of the Southern Hemisphere.

We have not one but TWO Adventures on our Bucket List which are located in Patagonia: The ‘W’ Circuit of Chili’s Torres Del Paine, and the Fitz Roy Traverse of Los Glaciares National Park. Both of these are located in fairly close proximity (a relative statement in Patagonia…many hours of driving on remote roads separate the two.) It is possible to do the hikes in BOTH places in one trip…each takes 4-5 days to complete.

Less famous but no less spectacular is Fitz Roy. And the weather here is supposedly even worse. Todor Bozhinov – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26380187

The typical time to visit the park is from November to March (summer, south of the equator.) We will likely be targeting mid-December 2019. This give us more than a year to prepare.

Most time you see pictures of the Tower of Paine it is in good weather. Be assured this is VERY rare. By Steve Bennett – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7429717

And,we’ll need every bit of that time. Almost all sources state that one needs to begin preparing for Patagonia a year in advance and complete all bookings months in advance. This is about TWICE as far out as we began our planning for the Tour de Mont Blanc.

Elevations will not be a factor in Patagonia, and we are not quite doing the long and ambitions hiking itinerary we did in the Alps (our actual trail mileage will be closer to half the TMB.) There are however two major factors which we do need to prepare for: Complex logistics and weather.

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No, it’s not a severe head injury…Brian prepares himself for Patagonian weather conditions, using his patented “Galactic Emperor” look.

Unlike Europe, there is no excellent transportation infrastructure in Patagonia. In fact, there isn’t much of anything. These are VERY remote areas, and virtually all the campgrounds, huts, reservations, buses, ferries etc will need to be booked well in advance. Unless we go with a tour guide group (not our first option) we will have to do all this booking ourselves.

Even getting to the locations is problematic…Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, is separated from Fitz Roy by a jaw dropping 1,400 miles! That’s essentially the same distance as separates Denver from Washington DC. And before you pick your jaw up off the floor, consider that Torres del Paine is even farther from the Capital of Chile, Santiago (almost 2000 miles!)

Patagonia is a BIG and REMOTE area.

The other issue is the weather. Both these locations are located in the area of the world known as the ‘Roaring Forties’ (forty degrees south latitude) where winds whip continually around the Earth, almost unobstructed by any land save Patagonia and a few scattered islands. The result is howling, continual winds, sometimes of hurricane force; and just in general awful weather. Rain, sleet, snow, fog can happen at any time of year. Clear days are rare. In fact, the weather can be so bad that often it’s a question of bad days and worse.

On the TMB Blanc we seldom had to deal with even a rainy day. Our biggest problem, in fact, was heat. This will not be the case in Patagonia.

Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre and Laguna de Los Tres. Again don’t let the clear skies in this photo fool you. By Rodrigo Menezes (Ironman br)

One thing going for us is our (especially Sylvia’s) experience with South America, and Sylvia’s ability to speak full, conversational Spanish. Brian can also grunt passably in Tarzan Spain Talk. (Well, it is her first language.)

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Though the Alps was tough, Patagonia promises to be at least as tough.

There will doubtless be many other challenges to overcome. We are going to begin preparations immediately. Before any adventure is the adventure of planning for it!

LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN!!!

Patagonia. It’s there.

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4 thoughts on “And the Next Big Adventure is…

  1. If glaciers are your thing, then you can’t beat Patagonia. However, I’d recommend taking more time at Torres Del Paine than 5 days, specifically you’ll enjoy the atmosphere on the O circuit much more than that of the busy W section there. 5 days will be plenty for the Fitz Roy and Laguna Torres however, even 2-3 is enough if you get lucky on the weather.

    For cheap flights, look to get to Santiago de Chile (SCL) and then use LATAM or SKY to get to Punta Arenas (PUQ), it’s the cheaper way than through Buenos Aires (EZE) to El Calafate (FTE), unless you have Delta points. Norwegian might start flying down there by then, so maybe Argentina might be more feasible.

    I have a couple of previous trip reports down there if you are interested and we will have another report after our trip this January:
    https://travel2walk.com/2015/08/20/trip-report-torres-del-paine-march-2015/
    https://travel2walk.com/2017/08/04/trip-report-el-chalten-fitz-roy-and-huemul-circuit-march-2017/

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    1. Thanks John this is great stuff! I’ll be very interested to read that report. We still have many details to work out on the Patagonia Trip…my main concern with the full traverse (O) is whether my ‘trick knee’ will hold out carrying a full pack that far. I was able to make it through six days in the Sierra but I still haven’t quite quite recovered from it. We”l be sure to consult your site often as we plan.

      Very impressed with your piece on the Walker’s Haute Route, by the way…doing that in June is probably no Joke.

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      1. No problem.

        Regarding the O, there actually isn’t too much additional downhill on the O portion since you’d be working your way up to Paso John Gardner. Coming down from the pass is one of the more brutal sections. It is, in my opinion, the best part of the hike though and many on the W take a day hike up to the pass as well. Like everything out there, just take it easy and no need to rush if things comes up.

        Thanks regarding the Walker’s Haute Route, the snow definitely provided a different perspective on the mountains and it was the only time I could make it work. I think a lot of people ran into that last year in the Sierra Nevada’s too. Again it just takes experience, good navigation, common sense, and patience. Hopefully I’ll have another trip over there at some point. Looking to do the Europaweg portion as part of Tour du Mont Rosa.

        Let me know if you have questions during your planning or if you guys make it up here to VA and want to go for a hike.

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