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Ice Queens

Perhaps the worst movie created, “Ice Queen” is the story of a cryogenically frozen woman who awakes and kills the mercenary pilot.  The airplane crashes and traps a group of survivors.  Johnny, Tori, and Elaine have to find a means of escape to save their lives.  If that can be the plot of a Hollywood movie, the intriguing story of Laura Walker, Chaltén the Pinguno, Ashley Miller, and Snow Woman ought to have a chance.

El Chalten PingunoHaving had enough of the touristy Patagonia town of El Calafate; Matt, Laura, Ash, and I headed 220 kilometers north to the town of El Chaltén. Just twenty years old or so, this town of 3,000 is a trekker’s dream as it is surrounded by majestic Andean peaks, scenic valleys, and fresh mountain air. It was Matt and Laura’s first experience in a hostel, but they handled the bunk beds like grizzled backpackers by immediately recognizing that alcohol is the key to a good night sleep. So we hit up a local pizza joint where we were greeted by Chaltén the Pinguno. Inanimate perhaps, but she was full of delicious red wine goodness. Laura was particularly enamored with her… so much so she opted for Chaltén to become their pet decanter. Wrapped in swaddling paper place mats, Chaltén the Pinguno was packed for the long journey to Chicago.

El Chalten Town El Chalten Valley Condor de los Andes Hostel 

Like third graders at camp for the first time, the four of us awoke quite chatty. And a quick glance out the foggy window foretold of poor weather for hiking. It was dumping snow and accumulating fast. Matt suggested we let the good times roll and cozy up in a quaint establishment and drink as many Quillmes 1.5 Liter beers as possible before their scheduled departure at 6:00pm. I rallied the troops by pointing out that the weather really wasn’t all that bad, we bundled up and hit the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares headed for Laguna Capri. The snow quickly became a beautiful accompaniment rather than a hindrance. We headed up the trailhead towards our destination stopping now and then to shed a layer as the sweat began to pour. At one such stop, Snow Woman (very creative name) was born. Similar to the human birthing process, Snow Woman was not the product of an egg. Rather, she came from the sky like a stork delivering your family’s newest addition. With the highest fashion sense, Laura and Ash dressed the naked toddler in a hat and scarf.

AmarilloWe reached Laguna Capri only to be teased by the veil of wispy clouds disguising Cerro Fitz Roy. This slight disappointment was relieved when Matt spotted the glowing blue ice of a distant glacier. As we arrived back in civilization, Matt and Laura boarded the bus bound for a plane trip to the land of Argentine malbec. Mendoza. Ash and I were left in the vacuum of just our company once more. All we could do was stare at each other blankly for hours.  Bleak.

EntranceLaguna Capri Hike El Chalten - Laguna Capri Hike - v34

Laura, Ash, Chaltén the Pinguno, and Snow Woman (she melted) were maidens of the ice.  For obvious reasons, I particuarly liked the ceramic wine providing bird.  If only I could swap out Ashley for this penguin.

- Greg

  1. El Chaltén is young and remote enough that it doesn’t have a working ATM (the one ATM in town is always out of cash). So bring along plenty of cash as most places do not accept credit.

  2. Most of Patagonia’s great hikes are not at strenuous altitudes. Thus, there is no need for days of acclimatization.

  3. While El Calafate’s entrance to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares costs $15, it is free in El Chaltén.

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