64.01 mi

Elevation gain

17,037 ft

Technical difficulty


Elevation loss

17,251 ft

Max elevation

5,552 ft


70 4.8

Min elevation

762 ft

Trail type

One Way


5 days 5 hours 53 minutes




September 13, 2015


February 2014
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5,552 ft
762 ft
64.01 mi

Viewed 22462 times, downloaded 1023 times

near El Chaltén, Santa Cruz (Argentina)

This is the big tour, in the Chaltén region, for those who want to escape the mad crowds, such those found at Laguna Torre or at the various Fitzroy campings and viewpoints. I did it clockwise, although I believe that the rule is to do it the other way. Let me point out two disadvantages of my choice, the second one being (at least for me) somewhat more serious than the first one:
A) the steep end somewhat slippery stretch from Paso Huemul to lago Viedma is tackled while descending;
B) the tirolesa at Laguna Toro has the rope anchored on the side of Cerro Huemul. If you approach it from that side, you are able to drag the wheel to you also if it is waiting on the other side. The converse is not true: for this reason I lost one day waiting at Laguna Toro. Lost so to say, because in any case the wind would have been too strong in the surroundings of Paso del Viento to have a comfortable walk. Of course the name of this pass has been set in a proper way.
The track features minor additions to the basic loop, which may of course be skipped, but which are very worthy:
1) a little summit above Paso del Viento, in direction Cerro Azara. Due to the bad weather, I did not insist in looking for higher viewpoints, let alone to try, on the other side, to go somewhere on Cerro Huemul;
2) panoramic detours on the rock nose close to Paso Huemul, dominating the front of the Viedma glacier;
3) panoramic detours on the saddle coming before the descent to Estancia Rio Tunel;
4) a final climb to the Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado. I had already been there the day before undertaking the present tour, but when I reached the path to the Lomo the weather was to perfect to descend to the village: so I went up again.
The loop reminds somewhat the classical O circuit in the Paine, with Paso del Viento in place of Paso John Garner. It is difficult to say which of the two is better.

I have published several panoramas connected to this loop:
Paso Huemul
Viedma wide view
Bahía Témpanos
Reminiscences of Patagonia

Moreover, there are the panoramas from the Loma del Pliegue Tumbado:
Cloudy Patagonia
Sunny Patagonia
The sky is always blue in Patagonia - II

View more external


Towards Valle Toro

First views on the Valle Toro and the laguna

Campamento Laguna Toro

For the first night of the tour


The key point of the tour

Glaciar Inferior

No crevasse danger, no crampons needed

VIew on Glaciar Superior

Laguna and glacier are already well below the path
Mountain pass

Paso del Viento

Highest point of the tour, although I prefer Paso Huemul. Here the view opens on the Hielo Sur

Summit above Paso

Little summit that can be easily climbed from the pass. The panorama can be found in original size on Google.
Mountain hut

Refugio Paso del Viento

In a meadow between the moraine and Cerro Huemul, one hour below the pass.

View on Viedma

Arbitrary waypoint, since actually you are taking panoramic views of the glacier all the time between the refuge and Paso Huemul

Mirador Paso Huemul

This is no official panoramic point, but I thought that descending down to here I could take better pictures of the glacier flowing into the lake. The terrain is easy and free of dangers.
Mountain pass

Paso Huemul

For me, the most beautiful spot of the whole tour. Paso Huemul is an enchanted location where you feel also very far from the crowds of El Chalten.

Campamento Paso Huemul

There are some flat places for tents among the bushes. In few steps one reaches a wonderful viewpoint on the front of the glacier.

Start of descent

After a horizontal traverse, a steep descent begins. Very panoramic spot. Lower down there are also some fixed ropes.

Shore of Lake Viedma

Little river, little lake and view on pictoresque icebergs

Panoramic hill

If, after the saddle, instead of heading town to Rio Tunel one walks to the hill on the right side, fantastic views will be provided.

Rio Tunel

The waypoint is set at the spot of the destroyed bridge. The river has to be crossed more downstream, where it has already split in three branches.

Estancia Rio Tunel

Empty as I passed by.


Here you meet the road to the little harbour from where the boats sail to the front of Glacier Viedma

Junction to Lomo path

After having skirted also the Estancia La Quinta, with a little ascent one traverses to the well-trodden path to the Lomo.

Fork Toro - Lomo

Right you ascend to Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado; left you head, first horizontally, to Valle Toro.

Limit of the wood

The exit from the long stretch in the wood is a scenic moment on the path to the Lomo

Mirador Lomo

Perhaps the highest conventional viewpoint of the Chalten district.

Lomo del Pliegue Tumbado

Of course it would be a pity to reach the Mirador without summiting.

El Chalten


Free uphill stretch

In the section between the shore and the saddle I chose the path arbitrarily, not following the official track.


  • Antucko Jul 6, 2016

    Alucinante ! Must be a fantastic route. I will definitely hike this route when I am in El Chalten !! Thanks a lot to share !

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Jul 7, 2016

    But, I imagine, not in this season!
    Cheers, Alberto.

  • Photo of NIRGAL

    NIRGAL Sep 17, 2016

    La ruta está muy bien explicada y presenta las características de travesía, lo que generalmente la gente busca en Patagonia

  • raygun Oct 5, 2016

    Very helpful information to plan our 2017 April trip. Do you need to carry any rope for this trip? What are the essential gears other than climbing harness?

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Oct 7, 2016

    There is no real need for a rope. In the short stretch on the lower Rio Tunel glacier the crevasses are well in sight. If you find any different information, try to figure out the source: namely, in El Chaltén they rent every sort of climbing gear, and not for little money...

  • sudobringcookies Oct 11, 2016

    Do you think we will need crampons if we do this tour in Dez. 2016? Thanks for your help!

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Oct 12, 2016

    You mean at the beginning of the season... I do not know, you should better ask when you register at the start of the path. Paso del Viento could well be partially snowbound.
    Cheers, Alberto.

  • etienne masson Nov 13, 2016

    Sounds great. Need to look a bit more into it

  • fdm24 Oct 17, 2017

    We were thinking of going upto the PASO DEL VIENTO and then faster return using the same path. Is worthwhile? We do not have too many days in El Chalten and we would like to use the other days to see something different. Another question, do you need to bring a tour guide for this route? Thanks a lot in advance.

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Oct 17, 2017

    Chaltén - Rio Túnel - Paso del Viento? I think that it is a bit reductive, you loose the best of the loop, which lies around Paso Huemul.
    Did you consider other more self-contained short tours, such as Paso del Cuadrado and Glaciar Marconi? Of course, besides the classical Miradors...

  • alexh234 Dec 9, 2017

    It would be a gigantic help for me if you could answer two questions:

    Whether I need to bring any special equipment for the Tirolesa.
    Whether I need a permit

    I have seen a bunch of different people saying different stuff and I am leaving for this trip in 2 days... not sure if I am going to be able to do the part around Paso Huemul or if I am going to have to stick to the front side.

    Thanks in advance

  • etienne masson Dec 9, 2017

    Hi Alex,
    You need to register before you go and You will need to show a harness, map and 2 karabiber and the park entrance.
    All this can be done the morning you are going and is free. If you don't have equipment, you can rent it in town but make sure you book it as early as possible. I had to book in 3 different shops because they did not have everything available.
    They are also asking for a 20m rope I think, but could not really understand why. Frankly, it is not needed (I didn't have one).
    Harness and karabiner will be needed on second and last day to cross the river.

    This is a really good hike and as opposed to Cerro Torre and Fritz Roy, it is deserted. Really good one. Enjoy.

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Dec 16, 2017

    Thank you Etienne for your answer, which is far more up-to-date than I could have offered.

  • JuJu29 Jan 2, 2018

    I have followed this trail  View more

    Una ruta estupenda pero el tiempo puede ser su enemigo!!
    Y las tyrolesas son más difícil que lo que parecen!

  • Photo of La Bestia Parda

    La Bestia Parda Aug 4, 2020

    Muy buena, gracias por compartir.

  • Julian Stagnaro Jan 26, 2021

    Hola Alberto como es la caminata sobre el glaciar? hay mucha grieta?

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Jan 27, 2021

    No nay grietas. Caminas solo en una region "muerta" del glaciar.

  • flavio Picatto Sep 19, 2021

    Hola Alberto, se puede hacer solo??

  • Photo of Alberto Pedrotti

    Alberto Pedrotti Sep 19, 2021

    Se puede (2014...)

You can or this trail