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near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz (Argentina)
The present track covers some of the excursions that can be done in the valley of the Río Electrico, flowing from the Glaciar Marconi into the Rio de las Vueltas.
The base for excursions in this valley is the old Piedra del Fraile, so called because of a huge rock occupying the middle of the valley near the place where the Italian priest and explorer Alberto de Agostini build his shelter. Now the name has changed to Refugio los Troncos. You are expected to visit the Refugio since the whole area is private property of Estancia Ricanor. and you pay the fee for your stay at the Refugio. If you eat and/or camp at the Refugio the fee is automatically included in the price.
The walk to Glaciar Marconi is interesting, neither demanding nor tiresome, except maybe for some rocky stretches that force an uneasy walk. As usual in Patagonia, the serious difficulty may come from the fording of the side rivers, here the one flowing down from Laguna Pollone. I met a guide with his clients coming from the loop on the Hielo Sur, and he readily asked me about the condition of the river, which that day was fine.
Going past the point reached by me on the glacier without a rope and ice gear is not possible or, at least, not recommended. The glacier itself is also known for its huge crevasses.
The side tour to Laguna Pollone is short and very valuable. The site looks truly remote and is very panoramic. Pollone is the name of the village in Piemonte (the Italian region around Torino) where De Agostini was born.
The climb to Paso del Cuadrado lies totally at another level, both for the altitude gain and for the panorama. I had the luck to do it in a memorable perfect day, and from the pass I even climbed, as far as possible, the jagged north ridge, descending then, as far as possible, the scree slopes which occupy a terrace high over Valle Pollone.
The more demanding Cerro Eléctrico, which shares much of its access route with the Paso del Cuadrado, is covered in a separate track, namely N. 15628173
A nice spot on the access path.
The hill giving name to the location: "stone of the priest", referring to Alberto De Agostini, who was the first to explore the valley.
Not a comfortable stretch to walk, because of potentially slippery rock.
Not an official mirador, but the sight on the lake is nice. The fork to Laguna Pollone follows immediately.
There is also a little flat spot for camping here.
Endowed with many stone shelters.
Marked is the point where Río Eléctrico originates from the glacier. A very hostile spot.
Marked is the highest point that is reached on the glacier - always remaining in its dirty section. Very unpleasant spot.
I found this lake in rather low conditions.
Can be also used as an emergency shelter, although the comfort is seemingly very limited.
This is the bigger lake below the pass, with the glacier flowing into it.
Hidden little above the bigger lake.
It is a magic moment when the view opens on the Glaciar Fitzroy Norte, framed by the Torre and Pollone groups.
This is the point where I shot the "Fantagonia" 360° panorama which is given as first photo.
This is the name that I gave to this cairn after building it, since it lies in front of the Pollone group and glacier, and at the same time it dominates Laguna Pollone.
Coming back from the Pollone cairn I remained on the west flank.
Presumably Piedra Negra, although I am not sure if this is the orthodox spot, due to the presence of many shelters.
It is a pity that the staff of Estancia Ricanor, owners of the valley (yes, I know, this is unbelievable to civilized ears, but this is Argentina...) died not maintain the original name Piedra del Fraile.