A look back at a 6-month road/ski trip across Latin America, from Santiago de Chile to the mythical Tierra del Fuego.
June 2018: Together with my friend Lulu I embark on a 6-month road trip through South America: 6 months of skiing and trekking between the peaks of the Andes mountains and then all the way down to Ushuaïa. We are physically and mentally well prepared, super equipped, and above all ultra-motivated!
We’ve only taken our ski gear: tour skis, skins, knives, POLARIS and GRAVITY ski goggles for me, and PEARL for lulu. And warm and light clothes: softshell, down jacket, WARM TECH for the most part. Everything fits in two backpacks, we’re ready.
We pick up the van in Talca, from where we drive to Portillo. On the road, we are surrounded by mountains, the snow looks incredible, we can’t wait to make our first tracks in this part of the world! The conditions are great, lulu easily passes her first 4000 m, and I take my first corridor at 4000 m as well! Pure happiness!
We go further south for more skiing, and we stay almost a month around the Lonquimay volcano. Our playground is huge, we are surrounded by national parks and abandoned resorts, run by native South Americans, the Mapuche. The snow quality is sensational, we are alone surrounded by mountains, it’s pure paradise!
Of course, there are some other ‘adventures’ along the way: due to the enormous amounts of snow, the van gets stuck for several days in the Conguillio National Park. Fortunately, we have provisions, and we take the opportunity to discover the slopes of the Llaima volcano. The panorama from the top of the 3,125-m volcano is magnificent, with a superb view of a 3,000-year old primary forest!
In Pucón, the volcano is on green alert, so we can climb up and see the lava bubbling inside!
After a few beautiful tracks at Cerro Chapelco, which hosts an FWQ*** stage every year, we begin our descent towards Patagonia and the mythical Tierra del Fuego.
We descend from the summits to a scenery that is still mountainous but less snowy. Winter is coming to an end, and we discover a magnificent fauna and flora: fjords, rivers, waterfalls, lush forests, pristine mountains and glaciers... We feel very small in the vastness of this wilderness.
South of the Carretera Austral, the climate is drier, and the landscapes even more preserved: we drink water directly from the lakes and eat fish we catch ourselves in the rivers!
Since we can’t ski, we head for El Chaltén, South America’s climbing mecca. A few hours’ hike away, some of the planet’s most prestigious summits are beckoning us: Fitz Roy, El Chaltén, Cerro Torres El Chalten, Torre Egger... As complete outdoor enthusiasts, we feel the energy that oozes from this place, and an irresistible attraction to these mythical mountains! Unfortunately, without our equipment, we postpone scaling them for a next trip, and focus on our final goal: Tierra del Fuego!
Tierra del Fuego gives you the feeling of having gone to the ends of the earth, to an isolated and remote place, where nature takes over everything.
What we will take away from our journey are the encounters and the grandiose landscapes that will stay with us forever.
We leave more mature, having learnt from the mountains we crossed, but also having gotten a better understanding of ourselves, our desires, our limits, and how to manage risk in the high mountains, in unknown territories, always putting protection and security first.
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