OverviewGorra Blanca, is a mountain marking the border between Argentina and Chile. It is located at proximity of Passo Marconi, one of the gateway to the Campo de Hielo Sur (Southern Patagonian Ice-field), a massive ice-field wide about 80km and long 350km the third largest ice-field on the planet after the Antarctica and Greenland.
Climbing Gorra Blanca is an unvaluable experience for the beauty of the mountain and the outstanding views over the Campo de Hielo Sur. Gorra Blanca is a relatively easy mountain to climb, the access is easy (the mountain is just on the edge of the ice-field) but the weather conditions can be severe and even in summer several days or weeks waiting for a window of good weather could be necessary.
Gorra Blanca is almost covered of snow and ice and the summit are got a rounded shape that justifies the name of the mountain (Gorra Blanca for White Hut in spanish).
De Agostini tried to climb the mountain in 1935 but the first succesful ascend was achieved the 12th January 1964 by the Argentinian climbers Augusto Mengele and Pedro Skvarca. The mountain is these days commonly climbed but fare from being busy.
Typically the climb of Gorra Blanca is part of a short traverse of the Campo de Hielo Sur. Excluding the climb of Gorra Blanca the trek takes about 5 days, starts and ends and in El Chalten with an anti-clockwise direction (El Chalten --> Piedra del Fraile Camp --> Paso Marconi -> Traverse of the glacier (2-3 days) --> Paso del Viento --> El Chalten).
Good navigation skills are ESSENTIAL when traversing the Campo de Hielo Sur. The climb of Gorra Blanca by its normal route is mrelatively easy and require limited proficiency with ice-tools but good knowledge of crevasse rescue.
In Piedra del Fraile there is organised camp for 4 USD/person.
From Piedra del Fraile hike up in the direction of Paso Marconi; pass on the left of the Lago Electrico (good camp sites in a place on the shores of the lake), then get on the glacier and staying on the right side (on the left there is risk of serac's fall) enter on the glacier.
Head on the right of the Paso Marconi, a wide pass at the base of Cerro Marconi. Gorra Blanca will be on your right, clearly visible at this point. Camp at the base of the mountain where liquid water is available (small lake built-up in summer by water of fusion) or stay in the hut.
If the intension after the climb is to complete the short traverse of the Campo de Hielo Sur, just head full south for about 35 km (intermediate camp possible in a stunning location just under the West face of Cerro Torre) and then head East to Paso del Viento to rejoin a trail for El Chalten.
Do not even think to use a cheap tent because the weather conditions can be severe and carry much more food than the strictly necessary. The climb and the full trek takes at least 5 days and it is very unlikely, even in summer, the weather will be fine for such a duration of time.
Red TapeGorra Blanca is in a national park (both in Argenina and Chile). Usual rules apply. There is a fee of about 3 USD/person to pay when crossing Piedra del Fraile.
Technically it is necessary to ask permission to the borders' police in El Chalten but this is not enforced so do not bother about . It is also necessary to ask permission to the Park Authority to climb in the area. The rangers will make some questions, check the equipment and give you a written permit. I personally do not see any ethical and practicle reason to do it because the rangers have no idea of what climbing is and they will try to refrain you from climbing as soon you make the smallest question about the conditions of the route. Also there is limited interest in registering because rescue facilities are limited and there is no mobile phone or radio coverage, unless you do not have a satellite phone.
CampingCamping is allowed and indeed necessary. There is a hut, at the base of Gorra Blanca in Chilean territory. The facility, Refugio "E. Garcia Soto" is owned by the Instituto Chileno de Campos de Hielo (an authority in charge of controlling the evolution of conditions of the ice-field). This facility is normally not destinated to the use of alpinists but in the facts this is tollerated. I have no idea if one day this will discontinue. Also, as the structure is from time to time used by scientific and military personnel there is no guarantee that at the same time you can use it.
The hut is comfortable, with blankets, basic beds, chairs and tables. If you use it please respect the place and move out all your garbage. This is the only way to maximise the chances the use of the facility will be tollerated in future.
In a clear matter of fact the hut has been built from Chile to mark the border and avoid any territorial claim in the area from Argentina.