The Andes and the Ice Cap provide Patagonia with some incredible opportunities for mountaineering and ski touring.
Our clients tend not to be experienced mountaineers and climbers, but a few want to take their trekking to the next level and really get out into the mountains.
This page is about helping you choose:
- Ice Cap expeditions
- Introductory/intermediate mountaineering in Patagonia
- Introductory/intermediate mountaineering elsewhere in Chile/Argentina, including Aconcagua
- Ski Touring
- Intermediate/advanced mountaineering in Patagonia
Mountaineering Trips in Patagonia
If you're in good shape, keen to don ice-axe, crampons and snow-shoes and aching to get deep into the Patagonian Wilderness then this is the one for you.
The South Patagonian Ice Cap (or Hielo Continental) stretches over 400km North-South, around 40km East-West and is over a kilometre deep in places. It is wild, unexplored and very dramatic. Expeditions typically take a minimum of 8 to 10 days - time to get onto the Ice Cap itsself, and some contingency to use the right weather window. On the shortest expeditions you might spend 3 days on the Ice entering via the Maronci Pass and descending via Paso del Viento. Typically you'd be using ice axe and crampons to ascend the Marconi glacier and snow-shoes on the ice cap itself (or possibly skis on longer trips).
Perhaps you've climbed Kilimanjaro, or had a taste of some ice climbing, and are now looking to tackle a summit in the Andes.
There are a couple of great peaks near Bariloche in the Lake District, and a couple near El Chalten in Los Glaciares National Park. In fact a 2 week trip to Patagonia could take you to both areas giving an excellent mountaineering holiday and a great introduction to the variety of landscapes that Patagonia has to offer.
Volcan Lanin, 3,776m, can be tackled in 2 days, plus 2 days of travel to/from (nearest town is San Martin de Los Andes). On the first day you will practice some of the skills you'll be using on Day 2, summit day. Lanin sits on the Chilean-Argentinian border and offers fantastic views across the Andes the Chilean volcanoes. You can tackle Lanin between December and April (or possibly July-October as part of a ski touring trip - see below).
Cerro Tronador, 3,484m (3,187m), is a 3 day expedition, summitting on Day 2, and using the Meiling mountain hut on the first and second nights. Tronador means 'thunderer' and that really is the sound you hear on approach, as ice calves off the glaciers into a natural amphitheatre below. There are actually a few different peaks on Tronador and for introductory/intermediate trips you'd tackle the 'Pico Argentino' at 3,187m. Tronador lies in the heart of Nahuel Huapi National Park, and is accessed via Pampa Linda, a short drive from San Carlos de Bariloche.
Cerro Solo, 2,221m, is normally a 3 day ascent, plus 2 days of travel to/from. Access to this glaciated peak is via a great day of hiking out of El Chalten and around Mount FitzRoy. You'll check gear and practice your skills on the Torre Glacier (which is a great destination in itself).
Gorra Blanca, 2,910m, sits on the edge of the South Patagonian Ice Cap and presents incredible views across it. It's a demanding 2 day hike out, and ascent of the Marconi glacier and then a day for the summit; in total you need 6 days out of El Chalten. This could potentially be combined with an Ice Cap expedition (see above).
The big name that attracts people from all over the world is Mount Aconcagua, one of the '7 Summits' and the highest mountain in the Americas. It stands at 6,962m above sea level and there's no doubt that it's a highly rewarding challenge in terms of endurance and altitude. Climbing Aconcagua takes a total of 3 weeks with travel from Mendoza, approach, acclimatisation and return.
So, for those who don't have the time for Aconcagua, but still want to get into the high Andes what else does Chile and Argentina have to offer:
- Ojos de Salado stands at 6,920m above sea level and is situated in the midst of the Atacama Desert
- Other high alititude (but non technical) in this region include: Volcan Parinacota (6,330m), Licancabur (5,916m) and Lascar (5,400m)
Contact us to find out about guides and expedition dates.
Thanks to the Ice Cap and Patagonia's volcanoes the Ski Touring opportunities in Patagonia are significant: Bariloche and the Nahuel Huapi National Park, the Chilean Lake District and Volcano country and of the course the North and South Patagonian Ice Caps as well.
Trips range from 4 days to 3 weeks and for a range of budgets.
The Andes has plenty to offer for the experienced climber/mountaineer but if you're ready for the next step then our guides can support you on the following:
Guillaumet, next to Mount FitzRoy, offers a 600m route with pitches from 5.4 to 5.9 and a pitch of 5.10b. You should allow 6-7 days including time to review your skills and wait for the righ weather window.
North Tower of Paine at 2,260m is in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park and one of the three towers from which the park gets its name. You should allow 10 days for this ascent, 4 days to get in/out and 6 for the best weather window.
Map showing Key Landmarks for Mountaineering in Patagonia
Guide to Patagonia
Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:
We've spent 15 years exploring Patagonia, and arranged holidays for over a thousand customers. We have a network of trusted guides, lodges, and local operators across the region and delight in helping people plan and arrange a great holiday.
You can book directly with our local partners in Chile and Argentina, or with our ATOL certified company here in the UK.