Global Adventure - Backpack the Fitz Roy Massif and Huemul Circuit in Argentine Patagonia


Global Adventure - Backpack the Fitz Roy Massif and Huemul Circuit in Argentine Patagonia

In this 9-day adventure we’ll take a boat on Lago Argentino to the blue-white face of Perito Merino glacier looming 240 feet above and nearly 300 feet below; camp and then climb to stunning sunrise vistas below the towering spires of Monte Fitzroy and Cerro Torre; and backpack past remote Paso del Viento overlooking the dramatic Southern Patagonian Icefield, before circling high above the Icefield to Lago Viedma, fed by the icefield. Carry your overnight gear including rented 4-season tents and some of your food for the last 3 days (approx. 30# total) and camp every night along the route; our local support team will carry most of the food and cooking gear. Cross three Tyrolean Traverses (you pull yourself hand over hand across a river gorge wearing a harness clipped securely to a fixed cable with a pulley and safety rope) and a flat glacier under the close supervision of expert guides (see photos in the leader notes below!). Be ready for dramatic, changeable weather including the famous Patagonian Winds, known locally as “la escoba de Dios” (the “Broom of God”), as well as unforgettable vistas and adventure! Combine this adventure with the Torres del Paine "O" Circuit adventure immediately before, and/or with the Tierra del Fuego backpacking adventure immediately after! NOTE: THE MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS FOR THE 50% FINAL PAYMENT ONLY.

  • Sat, Feb 17, 2024 — Sat, Feb 24, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Backpacking, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 53.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 11,662 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 4,300 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2 mph

Fly from the US via Buenos Aires and on via domestic air to El Calafate, Argentina, or shuttle (at your own expense) from the end of the Torres del Paine Circuit to El Calafate, arriving by no later than 16 February 2024.   Transfer to El Chalten, Argentina and trek through the Fitzroy Massif and around the Huemul Circuit, ending back in Chalten for a hotel night on Feb 23 and shuttle back to El Calafate for flights out on 24 Feb 2024.  Consider combining this adventure with a backpack to 'the end of the world' - the Tierra del Fuego backpacking adventure - immediately after.

Itinerary Highlights:    This 9–day adventure explores the wonders of Los Glaciares National Park, which many find even more dramatic than Torres de Paine.   From a starting point in El Calafate, Argentina, we’ll start with a boat trip and hike along the base of stunning 3-mile-wide Perito Moreno glacier, rising 240 feet above Lago Argentino – one of the few glaciers in the world that is still growing, and constantly calving giant chunks into the water below!  The next morning we’ll transfer 3 hours north to the bustling climber’s mecca of Chalten, Argentina. 

From here we’ll set off to backpack with an experienced local support team for 6 days under the dramatic pinnacles of Monte FitzRoy and Cerro Torre reflected in lakes below, and then above the dramatic sweep of the South Patagonian Icefield.  

On our first two mornings we’ll rise early to seek sunrises lighting up the granite spires like bright candles, reflected in the lakes below.  Our support team provides and carries most of our food on the first two days and nights, as well as fixed tents and roomy dining domes (with yummy appetizers and meals prepared by the support team!) so that we don’t have to carry tents or food during this section.

The second half of the trip is around the Cerro Huemul circuit –some call it one of the best ‘unknown’ treks in South America.  This trek crosses swift, freezing Rio Torre on a Tyrolean Traverse[1], then climbs along steep moraine and flat glacier to cross the gorge of Rio Tunel on a second Tyrolean Traverse, before heading up to face the famous Patagonian winds going over Paso del Viento, appropriately named ‘Windy Pass’, with broad views of the South Patagonian Icefield.  From the pass we’ll circle high above the Icefield to glacier-fed Lago Viedma and along the lakeshore (and across a third Tyrolean Traverse) back to Chalten.  We’ll have an experienced support team on this segment to help us negotiate the steep moraines, flat glacier and Tyrolean Traverses safely.   And they will also bring in our food on day three for the Huemul section as well as four-season tents to ensure sturdy shelter against the strong winds that we’re likely to encounter along this part of the route (we’ll carry the tents, our overnight gear, and some of the food – expect approx. 30# packs). 

The trip will conclude with a yummy group dinner and hotel night in Chalten, and on the last morning after breakfast our van will take us back to Calafate for flights home via Buenos Aires (or on to the next exciting Mountaineers backpacking adventure in Tierra del Fuego)! 

NOTE:  As with any extended travel, but particularly in an area with unpredictable weather, our itinerary can change without notice and sections may be modified or dropped.  The priority will always be on safety for all participants. 

Time of Year:   We’ll be visiting during late summer in far-south Patagonia, when the likelihood of clear skies and warm temperatures are highest (though high winds and foul weather can arise even in mid summer) but leaves are beginning to show some dramatic fall color.

Lodging:   The Los Glaciares-Fitzroy itinerary features comfortable hostels or basic hotels while in town, and guided, supported camping while on our trek (we provide and carry our own overnight gear but our food is carried and prepared for us).    We'll be sleeping in fixed tents with our own sleeping pads and sleeping bags and eating in a fancy dining dome on the first two nights ;  then on nights three through five we'll be carrying and sleeping in sturdy 4-season tents provided by the outfitter and our own overnight gear.  Because of the weight of the 4-season tents and limited space in some of the camps, tent sharing will be required.

Food:   Southern Patagonia has a food style all its own, rustic and very tasty with lots of meats, vegetables, legumes, hearty stews and local wine and beer.  While in Calafate and Chalten we will partake in the best authentic Patagonian food in a casual style.  While on the trail our food will be prepared for us and will consist of a variety of basic, filling foods including an appetizer, hot breakfast and dinner and a box lunch.  Vegetarian diets can be accommodated upon request.

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 2013.  This will be her 7th trip to various parts of Patagonia, and this will be her second time on the full Huemul circuit route.

Outfitter:  We will be contracting with Serac Expediciones, a trusted outfitter operating out of El Chalten with certified guides that have years of experience on this route.

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:  The Fitzroy-Huemul circuit has a difficulty rating of Strenuous and a leader rating of Challenging for more rugged terrain, mild exposure (steep scree slopes), a flat glacier crossing (microspikes may be required), and three Tyrolean Traverses.   The longest hiking day is 11.4 miles with 2500 feet of elevation gain.    

Limit:   Maximum of 14, minimum of 12, including the leader.  If fewer than 12 people register then there may need to be a modest increase in the second payment from what is listed here.

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 and scree slopes) for multiple successive days without such amenities as showers or laundry.  The weather can change suddenly to high winds and snow or heavy rain.  For these reasons, participants need to be in excellent condition with recent experience that demonstrates good balance and confidence traveling on rough trail with a pack, as well as the experience and willingness to pack appropriately and to deal with some discomfort, cold and inclement weather for extended periods while maintaining good humor.  (And this can mean seriously inclement weather, including major winds at times!)  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking, scrambling or hiking, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important.  To successfully navigate the three Tyrolean Traverses, participants will need to be comfortable with hanging over a deep gorge (safely clipped and harnessed onto a sturdy cable!), along with a full range of motion in their shoulders and at least moderate upper body strength to be able to reach over their head and pull themselves along on the rope (a safety rope also allows an assist if anyone needs help). 

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 trails with a map and compass.  Read this description of the goals, expectations and style that the trip will follow so that you can understand what to expect and commit to these parameters.

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.

Trip Price Detail:   $3300 including all lodging, transportation, the Perito Moreno day tour and most meals.  Your airfare (~$2000), travel insurance ($75-350) and any personal snacks and other incidentals are not included.   (if you join this trip from the Torres del Paine "O" circuit adventure immediately prior, there will be an additional ~$100 cost to shuttle to El Calafate from Torres del Paine).

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 at least a couple of weeks, and then decide on the final roster based on the best fit with the trip requirements - approval will not be dependent on the order of application. 

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 have to cancel more than 60 days before the departure date, you may receive a refund less a $600 cancellation fee and any other non-refundable expenses incurred up to that time. If you cancel between 59 and 30 days before the departure date, the cancellation fee increases to $1000 plus any other non-refundable expenses. If you cancel less than 30 days before the departure date, no refund is available.  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.

[1]  These tyrolean traverses are crossings of swift unfordable rivers or canyons on (in these cases) pre-fixed cables, where the person crossing wears a harness and hooks securely to the cable with a pulley (with the help of experienced staff people), then pulls themselves across hand over hand sliding smoothly along the cable from a position hanging under the rope face-up.  A safety rope tended by experienced staff can assist those who don’t feel able to get themselves all the way across.  You can hook your backpack on the same pulley and pull it across with you (takes more arm strength), or it can be pulled across on its own with the safety rope.”  See these photos of two of the three tyrolean traverses and the flat glacier that we will cross on the trip (from a 2018 Mountaineers trip).


Backpack the Fitz Roy Massif and Huemul Circuit in Argentine Patagonia

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.   Your gear must be suitable to handle strong winds, steep rugged terrain, and the potential for multiple days of cold wet weather.


Trip Reports