Patagonia: Cerro Fitz Roy Chalten

Here is the second installment of my blog from my recent 10-day trip to Patagonia sponsored by Epic Destinations with Ian Plant as our photographer leader.

Patagonia is a region located at the southern end of South America shared by Argentina and Chile.

Fourteen of us and a driver rode by bus from El Calafate through grasslands up toward the small village called Chalten. Here is a view of land we traveled through.

Grasslands of Patagonia
Grasslands of Patagonia

Chalten is a small village which sits near the Argentinian border with Chile. It is known as the place that mountaineers gather to prepare for the ascent up the peaks of the Andes.  A guidemap I purchased says: “Until the beginning of the 20th century, a large area of Andean Patagonia was considered part of the ‘Terra Incognita’ or ‘unknown land’ so often mentioned in the narratives of travelers and explorers. ” (49SouthPhoto Field Guide)  Many of the names of the mountains here are the names of 20th century explorers to the region.

We were so excited to view the peaks of the Southern Patagonian Andes.  Little did we know that it would be days before we would be able to view them due to the weather system over our area as seen below.

Clouds over the peaks of Chalten
Clouds over the peaks of Chalten

Although we were always on the ready to head out at a moments notice for a break in the clouds, we made good use of our time photographing waterfalls and small hills and streams. Photographing in the rain means having plastic to cover your equipment and keep cloths handy to wipe water off the equipment. Despite my efforts my camera had water damage.  I was able to get it to work for a while but then it stopped working.

Argentinian Waterfall
Argentinian Waterfall

Luckily our leader had a spare back-up and he kindly let me borrow it. The catch? It was a Canon and I have shot nothing but Nikon for about 10 years or so. Nothing like getting to know a whole new camera system overnight. I learned enough about the camera to know that if I could shoot nothing but Canon 5D Mark II for the rest of my life I would be happy. A good camera and different in many ways from the Nikon I had been shooting.

Lacking the right name for the peak below, our guide suggested “Washboard Mountain” because of the way the snow gives strong bands of black and white on the upper region. And the name has stuck. There is our bus in the middle left.

"Washboard" Mountain
“Washboard” Mountain

Finally on the 4th and last morning of our stay in Chalten we awoke to clear skies and we knew we would be able to photograph Cerro Fitz Roy. Here is what we saw:

Andes Mountains
Andes Mountains


And when the sun hit the mountains, Fitz Roy Peak was lit like a red lightbulb.

Fitz-Roy Chalten Peak at dawn
Fitz-Roy Chalten Peak at dawn


And just so we should know this was very special day, a Condor flew low over our group as we were packing up.  According to Wikipedia, the ‘Condor is the largest flying land bird in the western hemisphere’, and the’ Andean Condor is second only to the Wandering Albatross in wingspan of all flying birds. (Condor,Wikipedia)

Next, we head into Chile and my last Patagonia blog.


6 Replies to “Patagonia: Cerro Fitz Roy Chalten”

  1. Wow Phyllis. Beeutiful!!!! Love the Argentinian waterfall and those white mountains that turn red/orange ! Did anyone get a picture of the condor?
    Love looking at your pictures. :-)

    1. Thanks so much, Patti. Nobody got a picture of the condor, unfortunately.
      Thanks for reading and watching the blog!

  2. The photo of Fitz Roy Chalten Peak at sunrise is so compelling. You can almost tell how those rocks feel to the touch.

    1. Wese,
      Thanks for your wonderful comments. I really appreciate it.
      The peaks made us all so excited. We traveled all that way and despaired for days of ever seeing the peaks.
      It was a wonderful moment.


  3. Quite interesting pictures. Washboard mountain is curious – I wonder what is causing the bands? Also there is an interesting cloud formation above. It looks somewhat like a shadow of the peaks caused by a fictitious light source coming up from the lower right. The Andes mountain peaks are also quite striking. Nice job on catching the sunrise looking the wrong way (i.e. towards the west).

    I hope your Nikon can be repaired. If you need a new one, I guess it would probably be a Nikon again, because even though the Canon is a good option as well, you probably have some investment in lenses for the Nikon, which might not work properly (if at all) on a Canon.

    1. Bob,
      Thanks for your insightful comments! It makes me feel so happy that you care to respond.
      Sorry I had to miss the funeral. I wish I could have been there to honor your father-in-law.
      I’ll look at the washboard mountain peak to see what you saw. It was crazy light during that week of storms.
      The Nikon may or may not be salvageable but one thing the mishap showed me? My camera was incredibly out of date and I didn’t have a clue.Serendipidy.
      I now use “live view” all the time!!!
      I thought I would have that camera until I died. I dug into my $$ stash and bought a new Nikon D810. I’m told I have about 5 more years
      of photog left in me and I’m gonna make the most of it!!!
      Nikon lenses only will fit a Canon with an adapter and even then, it’s not great. All that connectivity is compromised.

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