The Chaltén Massif was once a faraway land, a place where mountaineers could live a simple and adventurous life in the wild. Until the early eighties few expeditions visited the area every year but soon, due to a sharp rise in popularity and the advent of the town of El Chaltén for geopolitical reasons, things changed. The bridge over Río Fitz Roy was the first step, which was followed by roads, services, pavement, infrastructure, weather forecasts, etc. In spite of these changes the beauty of the peaks is still the same and Patagonia’s most precious treasure: its fierce winds and storms, continue to blow through the land as strong as ever, reminding us of our insignificance.
Today’s challenges are of a very different nature than those that faced the early explorers. The wealth of information that has been written about Patagonia around the world in countless publications has to some degree shattered the unknown and has left us to focus on a different type of exploration, less geographic but more technical.
Relating specifically to the climbing, the single most influential change of all has been the weather forecasting, available since around 2004. Today it is possible to have perfectly accurate weather forecasts that allow you to climb with no stress. With the weather variable gone today’s climbing challenges are no different from those in other “controlled” mountain areas around the world, like the Alps.
The objective of this website is not to provide a guidebook as it is to compile an accurate listing of all the “interesting” ascents that have been done in the area.
The jagged peaks of this massif are some of the most striking and inspiring in the world but it is a very small area, hence a very limited resource, one we should tread on lightly. Keep in mind that most of the towers are within a National Park. If we hope to keep having unrestricted free access to this peaks we, as climbers must be leaders in environmental responsibility.
These are some suggestions to ensure the area’s preservation:
Pack it in, pack it out. Make sure you bring down all your garbage.
Be mindful in the disposal of human waste, specially on places that receive a lot of visitation such as Paso Superior and Niponinos. Stay away from water sources and try to distance yourself as much as possible from the camping areas. In the case of Paso Superior the Park has intalled a shovel to shove your human waste over a cliff. Might not be the best solution, but it is a first step towards a solution. Use it.
Avoid shortcutting in the trails. Due to the heavy rainfall and wind the trails in this area suffer a lot of erosion, loosing up to 10 centimeters of soil per year in some cases. The structures you will find in the trails, steps, waterbars, etc are intended to minimize that erosion. Please stay on the trail!
Avoid leaving fixed ropes behind. Nobody likes climbing under them, and due to the wind they become unusable very fast, becoming immediate “wall garbage”. If we hope to preserve the charm of these walls we need to collectively make an attempt to minimize “wall garbage”. Do your part by not leaving fixed ropes or deposits behind.
Most of the massif is inside Los Glaciares National Park. For any climbs from the Torre valley, any climbs from Paso Superior or to climb Aguja Guillaumet and Aguja Mermoz from the north or west, make sure you swing by the National Park’s office to register. You will need your passport number. The climbing permit is free but it is mandatory.
If you plan to climb in the Marconi/Piergiorgio valley or on the Pollone massif you do not have to register because these areas are outside of the National Park. Same goes for anything on Fitz Roy's north and northwest face, including the Supercanaleta, which are outside the park as well. However if you plan to climb the Supercanaleta and descend via the Franco-Argentine you have to register with the National Park.
If you plan to climb anything from the west side, from the Icecap, accessing via Paso Marconi, you will have to fill in a permit with Gendarmeria Nacional (the border patrol). When you cross Paso Marconi you enter into Chile, hence this requirement. This permit is free but takes 72 hours to process.