What does Chalten mean?

The town takes its name from Cerro Chalten (better known as Cerro Fitz Roy), which is located a few kilometers away, and can be seen from most of the town.

History of El Chalten

El Chalten was founded on the 12 of October of 1985, and it is one of the youngest towns in Argentina. Located in Santa Cruz province, of Patagonia, it was hard to reach at the beginning. Being far from the big cities, you had to travel from El Calafate by a gravel road, a trip that used to take up to 7 hrs. Today, the road is paved all the way and the trip takes less than 3 hrs.

Before the town was established, the only inhabitants of the area were some border policemen (gendarmeria) that lived in what is the park rangers office today, and several gauchos (Argentinean cowboys) that lived in the estancias of the area.

Today, the main economic activity of the town is tourism. It is sometimes called the National Trekking Capital for its many trails of various levels of difficultly. It also offers several activities like boat trips and glacier hikes, horse riding, fly fishing, bird watching, and much more.

Cerro Chalten or Fitz Roy

In the Ahónikenk language of the Tehuelches, the original people of the region, Chalten means "smoking mountain". It got that name for the almost permanent clouds that form on its top, which makes it look like a smoking volcano.

In 1887 it was named Cerro Fitz Roy by Dr. Francisco Pascasio Moreno in honor of the captain of the HMS Beagle.

With a height of 3375 m above sea level, it is considered a very difficult mountain to climb for its big nearly vertical granite walls and the strong winds that are characteristic of the area. The first ascent was made by a group lead by Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone in 1952, only a year after the first ascent of  Everest.

To the left of the mountain we can find Poincenot Needle, named in honor of Jaques Poincenot, a teammate of Magnone and Terray, who died tragically after the first ascent of Cerro Fitz Roy.

To the right we can see the Mermoz and Guillaumet Needles.

Cerro Torre

Cerro Torre, with a height of 3050 m above sea level, is one of the most impressive mountains in the area.

The first registered ascent was made in 1970 by a group lead by Ceaser Maestri, who claimed a previous climb in 1959 that was discredited by some contemporary climbers.

Formed by nearly vertical granite walls and covered at the top by a very characteristic 'ice mushroom', it's a very well know mountain. At its feet rest Glaciar Grande which formed Laguna Torre, and to its left we can see Cerro Solo, and also the T. Edgger, Standhardt and Bifida needles, and to its right we can see Cerro Adela y Cerro Grande.