OverviewThe Paso del Viento (pass of the winds) is a mountain pass lying in the Los Glaciares national park close to El Chalten, Argentina. It is the pass between the valley of laguna toro and the Viedma glacier flowing out of the Southern Continental Ice Field.
*From the east (campamento laguna toro).
Duration: 4 - 5 hrs one way.
Difficulties: river crossing, finding a good way to get from moraine on a glacier and back off on the other side, flat glacier crossing, steep scree slopes, the patagonian unstable weather with possibly severe winds. Depending on season and past precipitation the path can be partially covered in snow. Because of global warming this route will probably change in the future as the tunel glacier retreats and will leave behind even more unstable moraine to cross. Locals consider this route to be within the reach of the experienced trekker. Personally I think you need at least some basic mountaineering experience to do this route safely without a guide and I wouldn`t do it alone either.
Maps: zagier and urruti 1:50.000 map of los glacares and the patagonian icefield.
Camp at the laguna toro camp site (sheltered from the wind).
Cross the rio Túnel at the west side of laguna toro. 2 options:
1)cross it close to the lake (you´ll probably need to walk on sandels if you don´t want to get water in your boots)
2)cross it using the tyrolean traverse (locals advised against this, thinking it´s in bad shape) which is a bit more to the west of the lake (see map).
Follow a gorge heading upwards and starting a bit south of the rio tunel (but dont follow the river itself!) on the west side of the valley. The path ascends for a while and then descends on the glacier moraine.
WARNING: Because of the danger of rockfall on the moraine south of rio túnel the advised route is going west on the lowest part of the glaciar túnel, thus avoiding the loose scree (we saw some stones falling, this slope is certainly to be avoided). Local porters told us no crampons were needed and there were no crevaces. (Personally I liked doing it on crampons, and there do were crevaces but they were small and not covered with snow. So the choice is up to you and will depend on your experience and weather conditions). The glacier is flat at this point. Dont head too much north because small ice - hills and bigger crevaces make the going difficult there.
Keep heading west for a while and leave the glacier on the south side to reach a path in the scree slope (the scree slope is more stable at this point compared to the eastern part). Finding the place to leave the glacier was difficult for us: there was only a little cairn on the scree slope and the path is not visible from the glacier. There was a big boulder at the point were we got off the glacier. From the base of the glacier it was a short section (5 - 10 meters) of very loose rock and scree before reaching the path.
Follow the path on the scree slope west. We had some steep snow fields to cross (october 2011). At the top of the pass the winds pick up. Enjoy (on a clear day) the incredible views of the Campo hielo sur and the viedma glacier to the west.
*From the northwest: part of the "vuelta al hielo continental" (tour of the continental icefield) which passes from paso marconi to paso del viento on the southern continental ice field. There are (according to the zagier y urruti map) 2 camping options on the slope between the Viedma glacier and the paso del viento.
*From the southwest: theoretically this pass could be done from the refugio paso del viento wich lies to the southwest from the paso del viento. Most commercial tours pass from paso del viento to this refugio (and not the other way rond) on a tour called "vuelto al huemul" which is a circuit around the Huemul mountain in counterclockwise direction.
Getting ThereThe main logistic center is el chalten, see http://www.summitpost.org/el-chalten/224940.
Red Tape* Entrance to Parque Nacional los Glaciares is free (2011)
* When arriving at paso de viento from the northwest (part of the circo de los altares route) you will have already paid the landlord of Piedro de la Fraile in de valle Electrico to the north of el chalten (75 argentine pesos) (2011).
Camping* Camping at refugio laguna toro is free (2011)
DisclaimerThis page is based on our own experience with this route. Its intention is to give an idea of the route and the possibilities. In no way is it a replacement for a guidebook (wich will be more extensive), alpine experience or a real mountain guide. Equip yourself with enough experience and knowledge and consider the route after getting information from locals and other climbers. In no way can the maker or editor of this page be held responsible for any accidents or problems whatsoever resulting from the use of the information included in it.
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