“Before computers, telephone lines and television connect us, we all share the same air, the same oceans, the same mountains and rivers. We are all equally responsible for protecting them.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The evening before I had my formal introduction with Mount Fitz Roy, I was sitting with Andrey in the restaurant of a hostel when the mountain climbers started to arrive one by one.Rugged men with big beards and heavy climbing gear.They were all joining around a big table and laughter and jokes filled the room. I was turning my head to listen what they were talking about but it was impossible. I smiled. Everyone around the table had a story to tell about their adventures of the day.
What makes this mountain so special? The climb itself is very difficult and reserved for very experienced climbers. Just imagine: A hundred people may summit Mount Everest in a single day but Mount Fitz Roy may only be ascended ONCE a year! The reason? The unpredictable weather plays a very important role. In the 3 days that we have been here I have never seen the cloud mantle lift over the mountain. A cloudless day quickly transforms in the most horrific storm with wind and and rain. The other reason is the type of rock on this mountain.
Even photographers find it difficult to get a clear photo of the mountain!
We left very early the next morning. As I was waiting for Andrey to pack the last couple of things, I took a photo of Mount Fitz Roy through the hostel window. It was a perfectly clear day with not a single cloud in the sky. The granite giant was surrounded by pink candy floss clouds. What a contrast I thought! I could feel the blood rushing through my veins.Maybe today we would be lucky enough to see the full Monty.
There are different hiking routes to Mount Fitz Roy. We decided last night to hike to the lookout point or also called Mirador Cerro Torre and a little beyond and return in the afternoon. A more rewarding hike is difficult to find. Being avid photographers we couldn´t get enough of the nature that surrounded us. It is too beautiful to describe. Many people have told me that Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on earth but it didn´t really sink in at the time.
Imagine a canvas with splashes of gold, yellow, different shades of red and browns.Now add to that crystal clear water surrounded by rocks of all different shapes and sizes. Complete your picture with snow tipped mountains and an ocean blue sky! Multiply that by 1000 and you still don´t get an exact replica of what I have seen. What a humbling experience to be able to walk there.
Mount Fitz Roy was first discovered on 2 March 1877 but natives have been calling it the smoky mountains for many years. It was first climbed in 1952 by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone.
After a comfortable hike we got to the lookout point. I almost started to cry when I saw him. There he was, breathtakingly beautiful with not a single cloud to obscure our view. We stood there what seemed to be forever – just looking at him. I wanted to sit there quietly and soak up the view but it was impossible. This lookout point was very popular and a lot of people came to do the exact same thing than us. We moved to a more isolated place and we ate breakfast. Not keeping our eyes of Mount Fitz Roy and all his glory. What an amazing place to have breakfast. Let me tell you not even the fanciest Paris restaurant could beat our home made sandwiches and coffee.
As we continued with our hike through the park (Parque Nacional de los Glacieres) the weather started to change rapidly. The clouds gathered and the wind picked up. It was getting cold and after lunch we decided to hike back to the town. By the time we reached the lookout point the mountain was covered in a blanket of clouds. He had enough and it was time to cover his head and hide again from the world.
With happy hearts we went to the same restaurant. Tonight we had our own story to tell…
Date: March 2007
Place: El Chalten, Santa Cruz, Argentina