The Loma del Pliengue Tumbado is a chain of three round rocky summits at 1340m, 1420m and 1550m. In Spanish "Loma" could translate as "Hill". Pliegue Tumbado being the name of this chain of hills.
On its Northern flank runs Rio Fitz Roy and its Southern one there is Rio Tunel. Carrying on further West, you would reach the impressive Cerro Solo, but that is alpine climbing, and no longer hiking.
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado does not have anything spectacular and is far from being as marvellous as its neighbors, among others Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy.
However it provides you with the best view on these mountains. It also gives a chance to see them from the South / South-East side, as the usual hike will take you to see from their East side.
Hikers usually go to Laguna Torre or Laguna de los Tres to enjoy the view. This view point is even better !
Should you have only one day in El Chalten, rush there, have a picnic on top and come back with hundreds of pictures.
*click on the left picture to enlarge one of the views from the trail*
Getting There and Staying...
There are two ways to access El Chalten :
The most common is by bus from El Calafate. There are 1 or 2 buses per day, taking 4 hours.
Two companies run this service : CalTur and Chalten Travel.
Second solution : you can come from Villa O'Higgins in Chile (southern end of the Carretera Austral) by boat (once to twice a week) across Lago O'Higgins. Then hike for 25 kms and take a second boat on Lago del Desierto. From there, there is an evening bus to El Chalten. All details on this incredible crossing : Cruce VOH a El Chalten.
As far as accomodation is concerned, there are several youth hostels and camp sites in town. One I can recommend that offers both beds and camp grounds is El Refugio, located on the main street (6$ per night and per bed / 2$ per night and per person in tent).
Kitchen facility and hot shower included in the bed price.
Red Tape and Weather Conditions
Loma del Pliengue Tumbado is part of the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.
No fee is required, you give which ever amount you feel like when entering El Chalten via the Visitor Center.
As any protected area, it is forbidden to camp outside campsite, or lit fires. Take all trash away with you.
Be aware that in Patagonia the weather can change brutally.
From warm sun to cold snow in a couple of hours.
Take warm and waterproof clothes with you, even if the weather seems nice in the morning.
The best time to enjoy the place is December to February, but there can be stronger wind and many visitors (this area tends to be trendy among hikers). October, November, April and May have fewer visitors and less wind but there can be more rains. From June to September it is much colder and wetter. However bear in mind that there can be rain and sun throughout the whole year. This is Patagonia !
Trail to the Top
The trail starts from the Visitor Center at the entrance of El Chalten (alt. 400m).
At first, follow the signs indicating "Laguna Toro".
Then there will be a distinctive sign showing the Loma del Pliengue Tumbado, where the trail splits.
It is an easy ascent on a good trail all the way long.
If you go up to the highest summit at 1550) you will have to hike 1100m (altitude gain),
which takes about 3h30 / 04h.
It will first climb for 300m until you reach a forest. In the woods, it is a quiet path, with good shadow when the sun is strong. Then you will end up on a large plateau with colorful flowers that will take to the base of the three round summits. The highest one, which is one the right hand side will give you an even more incredible view on Cerro Torre, its lake and its glacier (looking north).
From there, you can also see the Cerro Huemul and the Paso del Viento (looking west).
From this pass, starts the splendid Hielo Patagonico Sur (Patagonian Continental Glacier).
There is little running water on the way, it is therefore better to carry its own liquid from El Chalten.
Trekking guidebooks for the El Chalten area :
1. Trekking In The Patagonian Andes (Lonely Planet)
By Clem Lindenmayer and Nick Tapp - Nov. 2003
ISBN : 186450059X
2. Chile & Argentina : Backpacking & Hiking Guide (Bradt)
By Tim Buford - Jun. 2005
ISBN : 184162036X
3. Trekking En Chalten & Lago Del Desierto
By Miguel Angel Alonso - Dec. 1998
ISBN : 1879568462
Map of the area :
Monte Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre
Scale > 1:50.000
ISBN : 1879568292
Weather forecast :
On Infoclima > El Chalten
Official website for El Chalten : Capital Argentina del Trekking