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near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz (Argentina)
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