Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Patagonia - Hike to Mt. Tronador Glacial waterfalls

With a free day in Bariloche, we decided to do a hike to see the glacial waterfalls of Mt. Tronador, an extinct composite volcano straddling the border of Argentina and Chile.  We had the opportunity to look at the mountain on both sides and it was quite interesting to note that the two faces were completely different - we would never know we were looking at the same mountain if the guide in Chile had not pointed it out to us.  Even when she did, we thought she was kidding!  The mountain hosts 8 glaciers, all receding, and we saw three of them from our viewpoint.  At 3,470 metres, Mt. Tronador stood more than 1,000 metres above the rest of the Andean massif in the area and it got its name from the thundering sound of falling ice columns.  We heard quite a few thunderclaps when we were there.

The guide took us to see the black glacier at the foot of Mt. Tronador.  Its unusual dark brown colour came from dirt and sediment picked up higher up the mountain.  Brown icebergs calve from the glacier into a small lake at its foot.   But where they broke up, we could see that the insides were white.

Our hike to the glacial waterfalls started on a pretty trail with bamboo on both sides and then it transitioned to tall trees with bamboo at their feet as we climbed higher.  We were told the day before that it was a 7 km trail roundtrip, which sounded too good to be true, and it wasn't.  As expected, it was more like 14 km round trip.  It was described as mostly flat - we found out that it was "Andean flat".  There was a climb of about 600 metres in one part of the trail, probably nothing to younger hikers but it took us a while to make it to the top.  Of course, when we made it up there, the sight of the multitude of glacial waterfalls from the Glacier Castaño Overo hanging off the rock face was so spectacular it was worth it.  We had our lunch break here before we headed back.  The entire hike took us 6 hours at a steady pace.  We didn't want to keep the rest of the group waiting for too long!

At the end, it was a long two hour drive back to Bariloche the first hour on very bumpy roads in the Nahuel Huapi National Park.  This was where a 4x4 would have made the journey more enjoyable.  But it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the hike even though it was quite strenuous.

Mt. Tronador viewed from Pampa Linda.  Our guide took us to this viewpoint to see the mountain because while we will be hiking to the waterfalls at the foot of the mountain, by the time we get there, we won't be able to see the mountain.
Closeup of the three glaciers from left to right

This looked like the one with the waterfalls at the end of our hike - Castaño Overo

Ventisquero Negro (Black Glacier)

Closeup cross-section of the Black Glacier
Morraine on the glacial lake in front of the Black Glacier

Start of hiking trail

Beautiful bamboo along the trail

Bridge built on fallen trunk
The trail near the top with tall trees above the bamboo
Another fallen trunk used as a bridge

Our destination - the waterfalls from the Cirque Glacier “Castaño Overo”

Modisa lily

Chaura - white berry unique to the region



Next post:  Andean Lakes Crossing

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