The Fitz Roy Mountains
I drank so much wine the night before last that I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I read until 5:45, then showered, packed, checked out of our room and met Martin for b’fast at 6:30. We boarded a 7:30 bus down the street at the bus stop and I slept almost the entire way to El Chalten (until Martin woke me up to see the view. I even slept through our bathroom break.) The bus stopped to let us take photos once and again at the visitor center, where we got to see photos of all the peaks with the names of all the first ascenders, which made me wonder if we shouldn’t have brought our rock climbing equipment.
I was happy to find that our hotel, another mid-range Lonely Planet suggestion, Los Nires, was much newer than La Loma. The manager was extremely amiable, so we checked in, then had pasta at a cute restaurant (I forget the name) two blocks down.
We hadn’t planned on hiking our first day, but decided to go ahead and do a short half-day hike. Seven hours later, at 9:15 p.m., we returned from doing the main Fitz Roy hike, which we had planned for the following day. The unfortunate part was that we arrived at the top so late that we didn’t have time to hang around. I literally did not sit down once during the first five hours of our hike. We took a TON of photos, though. (I’ve often wondered, during this trip, if I should have invested in a better camera, particularly one with a better zoom, but oh well. We’ll have the memories and a lot of good snapshots. I figure we can always buy a professional photo if we really want to frame one.)
The hike was a bit strenuous at the beginning, then fairly flat until we reached the lookout near the top, at which time we had the option to do the extra hour up to the lake or not. We decided to do it and it was about equivalent to doing that last steep hike up to the cables of Half Dome. It was steep, and it took us an hour, but we made it up to a splendid view of Fitz Roy and its cohort – St. Exupery, Egger and I forget the rest – with a cirque at the bottom. You can drink the water, by the way, without filtering it, which is such a hiking luxury. The only people at the top that late were backpackers sleeping at the campground nearby, no one else who had to return all the way to El Chalten. The two people who hiked the last part with us were from Israel, and the guy quoted lines from Borat for us as we walked up the rock steps.
We had dinner at a small local parilla-steak house-called El Muro. I think the hostess was xenophobic because I sat there (while Martin ran back to the hotel to get our money since we had arrived directly from the hike) for at least 20 minutes before the chef finally came himself and took my order. The food was delicious, though. I wanted lamb but ended up ordering filet mignon (and this time knew how to ask it to be cooked medium rare) and we shared fried potatoes, grilled vegetables and a bottle of Syrah.