Upon arriving back to El Chalten after my 5 day trek, I decided I wanted to hike some more in El Chalten. I had heard about this hike that was challenging called Huemul and I was definitely up for a more difficult hike. I waited one day to reorganize and rest a little and then started this 4 day, 50 kilometer hike. For this hike, a harness and safety cord was required. I didn’t have this equipment but it was very easily to rent one from the outdoor shops in town. I rented mine from Patagonia Aventura and it cost $50 pesos a day.
On day one, I had to go to the park ranger office to register (it’s obligatory for this hike) and then I started hiking around 11:30am. While they don’t like people to hike this trek alone, I hiked it in the high season so the rangers let me go ahead solo. The day was absolutely perfect and I had a cloudless view of both Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy as I hiked towards Laguna Toro. The first day’s hike was very well marked and it also a popular two day hike for those who don’t feel it up doing the entire circuit or don’t have time. The hike took around 5 hours and wasn’t too challenging.
On day two, I packed up and left camp around 9:30am. Luckily, I left at the same time as a group of 5 guys (Guillaume, Tomas, Javier, Matias, and Julien) . I started talking with one of the guys in the route and found out that two of them were from France and three were from Spain. They too were solo backpackers and just happened to meet in El Chalten. I fell in with their group and it was nice to practice my Spanish and have someone to hike with for the next couple of days!
The trek on day two definitely proved to be more difficult. About 30 minutes into the hike, we arrived to the river and had to use the cable and harness to cross the river. Next, we started following the trail up the mountain but at times it was very hard to see the path. We actually walked on the glacier at one point as a part of the path which was cool since normally people pay insane amounts of money to walk on the glaciers haha. We then continued to climb and finally reached the mountain pass (Paso del Viento) at 2pm and after 800 meters of elevation gain. The view from the top was absolutely spectacular. On one side you had the valley and glacier we had just climbed and on the other side was Glacier Viedma which is the largest glacier in Argentina and is a part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which lies between the border of Argentina and Chile.
After eating lunch at the pass, we started out descent and arrived at camp around 5pm. We enjoyed amazing views of Viedma for most of the hike down and luckily the downhill wasn’t too steep.
On day three, we woke up to rain and tons of cloud cover. This was a bummer because we didn’t have great views of the glacier but it was still beautiful. The hike was pretty tranquil to start and then we started to climb to Paso Huemul. Luckily the path was easier to see on day three and this pass was lower than the pass the day before. On the other side of the pass, the hike definitely got more challenging. The downhill was extremely steep and because of the rain it was very muddy and slippery. However, we made it down without any problems and then grabbed a snack at the bottom along Lago Viedma.
We stopped along Lago Viedma for a quick break to take some photos and luckily the rain stopped for 30ish minutes. During this break, we then realized that the camping for that night was very close and so we decided to keep going and eat lunch at camp around 2:30/3pm. As we arrived to camp, it started to rain again. Three of the guys decided to walk the remaining 18 kilometers back to El Chalten because they didn’t want to deal with camping in the rain and were lacking dry clothes. I decided to stay at camp that night because the camping spot was really beautiful and I could see pieces of the glacier breaking off into the lake.
On day four, Javier, Tomas, and I hiked back to El Chalten. The path was pretty difficult to find at times and the river was very high due to the rain the day before. Eventually we found the trail and were able to remain on it without difficulty. The hike involved a lot of hills so in this portion we were constantly climbing and then going down only to climb back up. We also used our harnesses again about 20 minutes away from the end of the trail to cross back over the river. We arrived at the end of the trail around 2pm which was very lucky because one of the tour boats of Lago Viedma arrived back at the same time. I was able to hitch a ride with one of the passengers back to El Chalten and the guys took one of the buses. (This was definitely important because it we had to walk back to El Chalten it was easily another 3 hours along a dirt road.)
This hike has been one of my favorites in Patagonia. There were amazing views, it was challenging and fun, and there were only around 15 people in the camp sites each night which was ideal because it wasn’t too crowded. Plus, our group rewarded ourselves that night by reuniting for an asado, wine, fernet and coke, and great laughs at Parrilla Argentina! I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who is visiting El Chalten and was to hike something a little more challenging!