The Andes run down the spine of South America and form a natural border between Chile and Argentina. It is in this great mountain range that the best rock climbing and mountaineering in Argentina is found.
In the Chubut region of Argentina is the Piedra Parada rock climbing area, which is a huge volcanic lump of rock 260m high, sticking up high in the air in the middle of a vast and barren plateau. The Chubut River runs from the Andes across to the east coast of Argentina, and passes by the Piedra Parada. Rising from the valley floor is a series of outcrops and ridges in every direction split by numerous canyons and gulleys. The Butrera Canyon cuts a 5km path into the hillside right next to the Piedra, and is the main rock climbing site in the region. The style of climbing here is mainly sport climbing on generally solid volcanic rock, with all types of climbing covered from slabs, walls, pinnacles, chimneys, and cracks to pockets and edges. There is a good range of grades from F3 to F8c+ with most climbs being single pitch and well bolted. There is also a great scope for opening new routes both sport and multi-pitch trad.
Piedra Parada logistics – The nearest place to fly to is Esquel that is about a 3-hour drive away from Piedra Parada. The best time to climb is from October to December when the temperature is good with dry clear air. As with most canyon climbing it’s possible to climb in either the sun or shade depending upon the temperature. It can get very windy here however so a good windproof is essential especially when delaying. With regards to gear, a 70m rope is a must plus a small rack is useful. The only accommodation is camping on the site of Mr Mario Moncada, “Establecimiento La Buitrara”, which has restrooms, showers and hot water.
The Dramatic Chalten Massif in southern Patagonia, Argentina, is home to some of the most ionic peaks in the world, including Cerro Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Piergiorgio, Marconi and Adela. This ultimate alpine playground seduces climbers from all over the world. The climbing here is centered on numerous steep jagged granite spires that range from 300m to 1,500m high. These mountains provide many classic alpine mountaineering routes involving rock, snow, ice-climbing and scrambling. The long approaches and lack of mountain huts mean that most climbs require a minimalist advanced camp near the base of the peaks.
This area provides countless moderate alpine objectives on varied terrain, involving easy snow climbing and scrambling. Examples include Cerro Madsen, Electrico, Solo and Mojon Rojo, which also offer superb views of the massive. Traverses around or through the massif, such as those around Cerro Fitz Roy via the Bouquete del Piergiorgio, or around Cerro Torre via the Ice Cap are also fine objectives for aspiring alpinists.
Whilst climbing in this region is still an adventure the general infrastructure has vastly improved. Chalten the town that acts as a gateway to this great mountain range is now a thriving tourist town with plenty of accommodation, internet access and reliable weather forecast information. This means climbing in the Chalten Massif is a climbing trip and not an expedition.
The best time is visit is from is November through to the end of February, which statistically is the driest period. . More often than not you will find more snow and ice in November and December, and considerably warmer temperatures and drier conditions during January and February. That said, it is impossible to point to a trend, as conditions vary greatly from season to season.
The current guidebook for the area is called Patagonia Vertical, which can be bought from our shop. This is a high quality guidebook with each route given technical details, a description, a history, descent details, a bibliography, plus an excellent quality colour photo topo or line topo (often both).
Getting to El Chalten involves a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calafate (three to four hour’s drive away), or to El Calafate (two to three hour’s drive away). El Calafate is 250 km from El Chalten.
Patagonia Vertical mountaineering guidebook is the definitive guidebook covering the climbing and mountaineering around El Chalten including the iconic peaks of Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. Buy this guidebook from our shop.