Seven friends, two days, and one beautiful trail-less valley

The view that hooked us: El Hunco as seen from our first drive through Valle Chacabuco back in early January. Photo by Marty Schnure & Ross Donihue.

El Hunco as seen from our first drive through Valle Chacabuco back in early January. Appealing, right? Photo by Marty Schnure & Ross Donihue.

The first time we drove through Valle Chacabuco a month ago, we were instantly enchanted by one particular beautiful valley reaching north up to a row of steep, jagged, glaciated peaks. El Hunco, we learned it was called, had no real trail, but used to have a horse trail that might still be visible.

This past weekend, we ventured up El Hunco for an ambitious overnight with five other friends from the estancia. Six hours of bushwhacking led us to a wide open, mossy upper valley with a stiff Patagonian breeze. We camped at tree line and set off exploring in the morning. After climbing up to a saddle between two jagged peaks, we were stunned by a completely new view: the Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Here is a glimpse of what we found.

Zapatilla de la Virgen or Maiden’s Slipper (Calceodaria uniflora). Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Looking down at one of three glacial alpine lakes. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Looking down at one of three glacial alpine (very cold) lakes. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

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Five photos in one: Marty climbs to the top of the saddle. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

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A view of Monte San Lorenzo, the highest peak in Chilean Patagonia. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

onte San Valentin rises up far in the distance from the northern ice field. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Monte San Valentín rises up far in the distance from the Northern Ice Field. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Marty takes a moment to relax and enjoy the view. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Marty takes a moment to relax and enjoy the view. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

Click on the photo below for a 360˚ view, including the edge of the Northern Ice Field!

Click on the image to  get a full 360˚ view from the top of the mountain.

Click on the image to get a full 360˚ view from the saddle we climbed to. Photo by Ross Donihue & Marty Schnure.

And just in case you were ever concerned that we take ourselves too seriously, watch our short video:

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10 responses to “Seven friends, two days, and one beautiful trail-less valley

  1. Nicely done! Love the vid and the pic of Marty walking up the saddle was terrific. I’m going to have to give that a try one of these days. Looking forward to even more pics!

  2. Every photograph gets better and better, The pan of the ice field is special for we who love the environment. Marty side stepping up the ice/snow trail reassures all of us that you are careful and cautious adventurers. We smile and nod.

  3. We have no power so your blogposts are the highlight of the day! I do have to take the iPad out on the porch to download each segment, but I think it’s warmer out there than in this house…Keep up all the adventuring and be well!

  4. That is just breath taking. The water is such an amazing color! What a wonderful adventure – and creating maps so others can access these areas is truly a blessing for all.

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