Patagonia Part 3: Wind and acceptance

The books say its windy here. This is mainly on the southern part of of the main Andes range but north of Tierra del Fuego. Near the third largest icefield in the world. “How bad can it be?” I asked myself.

How about in your face constantly, nearly knocking you down, hurting your eyes wind? Making you hate being outside, shifting directions and speed wind. Keeping you from wearing a ballcap wind. Sand in your eyes and making them water wind. Bracing yourself against it then it dies for a second and you fall wind. Gusts to 75 mph easy. And it is summer.

Watching people riding their bikes in it and talking to them about it I was like “no thanks”. But I wanted to trek of course. The previous description was just walking down the street. Especially in El Chalten, the backpacking central of Patagonia.

Essentially, everyone jams into the 100 or so hostels here in January and February (summer right?), hoping for good weather to get up into these easily accessible (two to three hours) campsites and maybe farther up to the lakes and glaciers.

All shapes and sizes and ages come here because, well, the books say it is beautiful. And it is.

Maybe 50 day hikes and overnights await. If you get lucky and it is not rainy and just a little windy, it is incredible. My Facebook pics of Fitzroy etc were windless.

After a day of heaving changing weather, I somehow scavenged a tent to be able to get up into these beautiful mountains (they are not that high here. Maybe 6-8000 foot peaks? But what a dramatic difference just 1500 feet can make! Glacial valleys still being carved. Peaks and valleys constantly being shaped by wind and ice.

I hiked around lots of the range here and got accustomed to the mountains. Crossing between sections, I did a fairly long day with the wind and rain abating just in time for a sunset attempt up to Laguna de los Tres and Mt. Fitzroy. Securing my tiny and shabby borrowed tent, I felt confident as we left the weather had cleared. If even temporarily. Learning from experience, I decided to hike to the lake with Tom, a guy I met on the trail. The weather was perfect.

Everyone wants the pink sunrise pics on the spires. The towers. Of this range especially. But I wanted to take it in during “un pausa de viento”, even if the sun was setting behind them. Knowing I could also get up at 4:30 AM and make the 1 hour and 1200 foot climb a second time; especially once i saw what was waiting.

We passed tons of people coming down and the campground where we had pitched our tents had maybe 70 tents? And there were only about five people up there so we had the whole beautiful place to ourselves for the most part. Hanging glaciers, lakes, spires. Colors changing by the minute. Different angles. I opted for naked plunge instead of just the photo. Yeah it was cold. Wow. Stayed til we needed a headlamp the last part of the descent.

As I settled into my tent, the wind started picking up just enough to drown out the obnoxious group of Israelis that were ignoring the “quiet hours” signs right up to and past midnight. As the night wore on, the wind increased to a ferocity that had the tent bending over me in the night, waking me up regularly. It drowned out my alarm. But hey, I wasn’t climbing up there in the now gusting to 75 mph winds. Plus, my tent would be gone with me out of it. Around 7:30 am, the gusts finally snapped a pole. So now my planned two nighter would be only one. But what an incredible two hours up there.

The acceptance part hit me today. The Buddhist

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