“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Mountains have always captured the imagination of intrepid travellers and nature-lovers alike. There are few things more awe-inspiring than gazing up at a soaring summit, and stories of climbers scaling their sheer cliffs have kept countless armchair travellers on the edge of their seats. Some peaks, like Mt Everest, have even become household names, making headlines and gaining more attention than your average Hollywood star.
Patagonia’s awe-inspiring peaks may be less celebrated than Mt Everest, but they are no less spectacular, and their stories are fascinating. Read on to find out about three of the most inspiring peaks in Patagonia.
Mount Fitz Roy
Rising to around 3,400 m (11,000 ft) above the vast Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Mt Fitz Roy is one of the most recognisable summits in Patagonia. Also known as Cerro Chaltén, it is the tallest of ten granite peaks strung along the border of Chile and Argentina. It soars above the glittering alpine lakes and glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park.
Mt Fitz Roy was first climbed on February 2, 1952, by a French expedition. Several routes of varying difficulty ascend the precipitous cliffs of Fitz Roy, and over the years the mountain has been the site of many feats of climbing skill and endurance. In 2014, American climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold spent an unprecedented 5 days on the range, exposed to the Patagonian elements as they traversed the ten jagged peaks that make up the Fitz Roy massif.
If you would prefer to take in this magnificent peak from a less vertical vantage point, a trek through the valleys below offers panoramic views of the Fitz Roy range. And if you’d like to get a bit closer, why not trek to the climbers’ base camp at the foot of the mountain?
Oct 23, 2015 at 1:25pm PDT
Rising to 3,127 m (10,250 ft) above sea level with a summit often draped in a billowy cushion of ice, Cerro Torre is a magnificent, needle-like summit that soars dramatically skyward. From the glacier below, hikers can gaze up at the spectacular peak, towering over one vertical kilometre above.
The human history of Cerro Torre is shrouded in mystery. For many years, most people who saw it believed it was impossible to climb. The relentless wind, violent storms, sheer cliffs and snowy summit simply made it too dangerous. Nevertheless, climbers tried. On January 31, 1959, an Italian mountaineer named Cesare Maestri declared that he and Austrian climber, Toni Egger, were the first to reach the summit. Unfortunately, Egger was swept away by an avalanche on the descent, carrying their camera and all evidence of their achievement with him. With a lack of any photographic evidence and inconsistent reports of his climb, many doubted the truth of his claim.
Climbers continued their attempts on Cerro Torre until 1974, when an Italian team of climbers finally made a recognised ascent. Other climbers have reached the summit since, but the summit of Cerro Torre remains a formidable aspiration for climbers and a breathtaking sight for all.
Torres del Paine
Like Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, the awe-inspiring peaks of Torres del Paine National Park rise up from deep valleys carved by millennia of glacial erosion. Among these mountains are three staggeringly steep, polished granite towers rising to 2,800 m (9,186 ft). These form the Paine Mountain Range, which gives the National Park its name. Torres del Paine translates to blue towers, ‘paine’ meaning ‘blue’ in the local Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language.
One of the first international visitors to this region was Lady Florence Dixie, who travelled here in 1879. She referred to the peaks as ‘Cleopatra’s needles’ and wrote about her voyages in her fascinating travelogue, ’Across Patagonia’.
Many explorers have enjoyed the stunning vistas of the Torres del Paine, including Otto Nordenskjold, a Swedish geologist and pioneer of Antarctic exploration, who has a lake named for him within the Park.
With soaring mountains, azure lakes and unique wildlife, a hiking expedition in Patagonia will give you the chance to slow down and immerse yourself in some of the most awe-inspiring mountain ranges in the world. We offer small group trekking expeditions to Patagonia. You can choose to pair your Patagonia trek with an expedition cruise to Antarctica or choose to do it as a standalone experience. Speak to one of our consultants, or your travel agent, to learn more about our Patagonia programs.
Aurora Expeditions offers firsthand views of these amazing natural wonders on our Patagonia trekking trips. Contact us to find out more about this incredible voyage.