Gorra Blanca is a 2900m peak located within the Southern Patagonian Icefield near the border between Argentina and Chile. It offers an accessible challenge for experienced hikers who are interested in trying a relatively short, expedition-style excursion with few technical difficulties. It is a very intense program to a seldom-visited part of Patagonia, with stunning views of both the icefield and the summit.
• Hike extensively on a glacier using crampons and different rope configurations
• Ascend to the summit of Gorra Blanca, one of the peaks of the Southern Patagonian Icefield
• Enjoy unparalleled views over the world’s 3rd-largest icefield and the mountains of southern Patagonia
• Challenge yourself with a relatively short, but intense expedition-style itinerary
Today is about getting organized in advance of our ascent. During the afternoon, you will meet your mountain guide who will go through the details of the trip, talk about technical and safety aspects of the ascent, and answer any questions you may have. We will also do an equipment check to make sure you have everything you need to gain the summit of the Gorra Blanca.
From El Chaltén, we begin our journey by driving ~40 minutes to the bridge over the Río Eléctrico (Electric Valley). Our hike is initially quite flat and weaves along a trail through the gorgeous trees as it follows the river through the forest of the Río Eléctrico valley. We will stop for a brief rest at the Piedra del Fraile campsite and then continue our hike into a terrain that is vastly different to what we just traversed.
From here, we enter a glacial environment that is far more open and offers magnificent views of Cerro Fitz Roy and the Polone spire. This is where the challenges begin. After fording the Pollone river and crossing the Upper Río Eléctrico via zipline, we will start to ascend steeply to find our campsite on the way to the Marconi Pass.
There’s no denying it - today is a tough day, but one with incredible views at every turn. The weather will play a key role in our almost vertical ascent as we climb very steeply to gain access to the glacier and
icefield. Once we connect with the ice, we will rope together and put on our crampons to ascend towards the icefield itself and the border between Argentina and Chile.
Once we reach the plateau, we see the vast southern icefield stretched out before us and different groups of mountains that can only be seen from this vantage point. We make our way carefully across the cracks and crevasses that are typical of the icefield until we reach the Chilean hut at the base of Cerro Gorra Blanca.
Today we leave most of our gear behind and try for the summit of Gorra Blanca. Our success is highly dependent on the weather so let's hope that nature cooperates!
From the refuge, we descend slightly before starting our long, steep but non-technical climb of 1300m to the top of the mountain. Depending on the snow and ice conditions, we may begin with snowshoes before changing to crampons, or we may need to do the whole ascent with crampons. We will also likely be roped almost the entire way, but the guide will set a pace that the group can maintain, and we will take frequent rest stops.
The views along the route to the summit and at the summit itself are incredible and offer vistas of mountains as well as the enormous Southern Patagonian Icefield. It is likely to be quite windy at the summit, so after taking in the enormity of our achievement and the panoramic vista, we will return via the same route to the Chilean hut or our camp for our longer celebrations.
With the hard uphill work behind us, the challenge is now to descend all the way back down to the bridge at the Río Eléctrico in one day. It is a long day, but all downhill as we retrace our route and meet up with our transportation that will take us back to El Chaltén.
• We must carry all the equipment with us. Each participant will carry their sleeping bag, sleeping mat, part of a tent, their bag of snacks (included) that should last the duration of the trek, and a share of the food for the group.
• On days that we camp, we must set up and pack up camp each day. You can choose to help establish and tear down the camps or wait for the guides to do so.
• The timing for lunch is flexible as the guide will always look for a sheltered lunch spot out of the wind.
• The guides will prepare breakfast and dinner at the beginning and end of each day.