Global Adventure - Backpack Across Patagonia's Tierra del Fuego


Global Adventure - Backpack Across Patagonia's Tierra del Fuego

Visit penguin colonies, sail the Beagle Channel, and cross the stunning rugged mountains at the end of the earth! First we’ll tour the unique ecosystems of Tierra del Fuego National Park on the Beagle Channel, before embarking on a 7 day, 56-mile remote, largely off-trail guided backpack across the archipelago from Lago Yehuin to the Beagle Channel. We’ll explore up broad river valleys carpeted with bright orange-yellow-red peat bogs, spend a night in a cabin on the inland sea called Lago Fagnano, and then cross the Fuegian Andes past multiple high lakes, craggy peaks with glaciers, and remote passes, all the way back south to the Beagle channel. Participants will carry their own overnight gear and food for the 7-day trip. Experienced local guides will provide trail experience and route-finding support, and a local outfitter will support us with transport, emergency resources, and our trail breakfasts and lunches. Participants must be comfortable with off-trail travel through bog, moraine and high lakes country and must demonstrate experience carrying an overnight pack for multiple rugged days, and packing light but appropriately for potentially highly changeable weather. NOTE: THE MEMBER PRICE GIVEN IS FOR THE 50% FINAL PAYMENT ONLY - SEE LEADERS NOTES FOR FULL PRICE DETAILS.

  • Sun, Feb 25, 2024 — Wed, Mar 6, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Global Adventures, Backpacking
  • Adults
  • Strenuous/Very Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 65.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 10,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 3,021 ft
  • Pace: 1.5 mph

We will meet in our hotel Valle Frio in Ushuaia Argentina, the “City at the End of the World”, on Saturday February 24 2024.  Flights home can be booked anytime on Tuesday March 6, 2024.

Regular flights to and from Ushuaia are available from the U.S. connecting through Buenos Aires.

Consider combining this adventure with the FitzRoy-Huemul Circuit adventure that immediately precedes it!

Sierra Sorondo.jpg

Itinerary Highlights:   Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago at the very southern tip of the South American continent, explored by Ferdinand Magellan and Charles Darwin with sea channels bearing their celebrated names.  From the shore of the Beagle Channel, the remote peaks, lakes, vast glaciers and moraines of the Fuegian Andes rise steeply above unique silver beech forests, colorful peat bogs, and beaches where fur seals, sea lions and penguins play.   Because of unpredictable weather and remoteness, this area is only now developing a range of services for hikers and trekkers eager to explore the wild terrain and unique ecology. 

Our 10-day itinerary will begin and end in Ushuaia, Argentina, the “City at the End of the World”.  We'll start with a guided nature tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park to build a foundation of understanding of the flora, fauna and geography of the park.   Then we’ll meet our guides[1] for a spectacular 7-day, 56- mile, mostly off-trail backpack crossing of an extended section of the peninsula from the lakes district northwest of Tolhuin all the way back to the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, termed the “Tierra del Fuego Crossing”. 

We’ll start with a 3 hour transfer to the north trailhead near Lago Yehuin in the ‘Heart of the Island Reserve’ from Ushuaia, and then walk two days south to Fagnano Lake, a strikingly beautiful inland sea (with a cabin right on the lake for night three!)  The route travels open country with boot paths but without real trails (which is the reason we’ve hired experienced guides who know the route very well).  From Lago Fagnano, we’ll climb again mostly off-trail up the lake-strewn Five Lagoon valley to join an established trail which crosses the Sierra Valdivieso at 900m Beban Pass, crosses a main road with a refugio for backup, and then links up with boot paths over the Sierra Sorondo, through Five Brothers pass to the Beagle Channel.  As mentioned, we will have an expert local guide and assistant guide but will carry our own backpacking gear and food on the trek.  An outfitter will provide us with rugged four-season tents and all the breakfasts and lunches for the trip, as well as communication and transportation support and emergency evacuation resources.  We will provide our own freeze dried dinners from home.  A flex day has been built in to allow us to accommodate weather or terrain difficulties.

Upon return to Ushuaia, presuming we don't need the flex day on our backpack segment, we’ll have a free day to rest, explore the city or to take a recommended boat trip (at our own expense, approx. $250) to a Magellanic Penguin colony and the remote Estancia Harberton which has a truly unique history and a world-class marine life research center. 

Outfitter:  Compañía de Guías de Patagonia is a well regarded local guiding company that specializes in mountain, nature & adventure tours in Tierra del Fuego, operating since 1997.  They outfitted and guided our excellent Mountaineers adventure here in 2015.

Time of Year:   February to March are outstanding times of year for exploring far-south Patagonia, with some of the driest and warmest weather of the season.  Leaves of the southern beech and the immense peat bogs are turning vivid yellow, orange and red as fall approaches.

Lodging:   We’ll stay the first two nights and the last two nights of the trip in a comfortable, centrally-located hotel in the town of Ushuaia.  On our trek we will set up wild camps as we go on 5 nights, and stay in a cabin on Fagnano lake on another night.  A Refugio can be found along our route on day five which provides backup in case of severe weather.

Food:   In Ushuaia we’ll enjoy breakfasts at our hotel and excellent local cuisine from restaurants in town.  On the backpack days our outfitter will supply simple but filling trail breakfasts and lunches,  and we will supply our own freeze dried dinners from home.  Those with very restrictive diets may have to carry considerable food items in from home.

Leader’s Experience:  Shuko Hashimoto ( has been leading backpacking trips for the Mountaineers since 2018 and has participated in 26 Mountaineers Global Adventures treks, backpacks and scrambles all around the world since 2016.  This will be her 7th trip to various parts of Patagonia, though this will be her first time in Tierra del Fuego.  (Cheryl Talbert who planned the route and trip details before turning it over to Shuko due to illness has has led a similar trip to Tierra del Fuego in the past and with this same outfitter.)

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:   This itinerary is rated Strenuous to Very Strenuous and Challenging, less because of sheer distance and gain and more because of sometimes very rugged conditions including steep moraine and boulder field ascents and descents, changeable weather, and off-trail travel.

Limit:   Maximum of 12, including the leader.  If insufficient people register, the second payment may have to be adjusted upward.

Participant Requirements:    Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file. This outing includes strenuous hiking on rugged terrain (including some steep moraine, boulders and scree slopes with some exposure) and wild camping for several successive days without such amenities as showers or laundry.  The can change suddenly from warm to cold, rainy and windy, even snowy.  For all these reasons, participants need to be in excellent condition with good balance and confidence traveling on rough, sometimes very steep terrain on and off-trail with a fully loaded 30-35 pound pack, sometimes off trail, including moderate exposure at times, and with the experience and willingness to pack appropriately and to deal with cold and/or wet weather for extended periods.  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking, scrambling or hiking, including off-trail travel, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important. 

NOTE:  Your leader makes most of the arrangements and provides logistics support during the trip, but is NOT a tour guide!  As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You must have the ability to navigate on and off trail with a map and compass.

NOTE:  Participants must be fully vaccinated to participate in the trip.  In addition, participants are expected to practice conservative covid behavior before and during transit to the trip including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces whenever possible; and that they will carry covid self-tests on the trip and use them at any time when they experience a symptom commonly related to covid.  Any positive test will mean that the participant will need to leave the group and quarantine at their own expense for at least 5 days (or longer if not symptom free) before flying home.

NOTE:  Participants are required to carry international medical and emergency evacuation insurance at their own expense, sufficient to get them to a hospital near their home if medically necessary.

Trip Price Detail:   $3300 including all lodging, transportation, breakfasts and dinners in town, and all meals on the trail, as described in the itinerary.   Your airfare (~$2500), travel insurance ($75-150), guide tips (~$100 each), your own camping food (~$150), the optional cruise/tour to Estancia Harberton, and a few meals in town ($150-250) are not included.    If fewer than 12 people register, the final payment may have to be modestly increased to cover the trip expenses.

Registration Instructions:   Leader approval is required so before registering please submit the application form below, which will automatically be sent to the leader.   The leader will collect applications for a couple of weeks before making final decisions on the roster based on the applicants' fit with the trip requirements;  the date of application will not be used in the decision.  After the leader’s approval, go to the trip listing and click the REGISTER button to pay the 50% deposit and hold your space on the roster. Registration will close on September 1, 2023 or whenever the roster fills. The balance of the trip payment will be due in the late fall of 2023.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release

Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:   If you cancel 45 days or more before departure (i.e. before January 10, 2024), your cancellation penalty is $642.  If you cancel between 45 and 33 days before departure (i.e. before Jan 23, 2024), your cancellation penalty is $1950.  If you cancel 32 days or less before departure, your full payment is forfeit.   NOTE:  the cancellation fees above may be waived other than a minimum $100 admin fee if someone can be found to take your place on the trip.


Backpack Across Patagonia's Tierra del Fuego

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


Trip Reports