Stepping out of the car after the three hour drive to El Chalten from El Calafate, I was hit by it; a wall of wind, frigid and unlwecoming. After the apparent warmth of the desert, the cold served as a stark reminder that we had left familiarity far behind and were now in a foreign land ruled by massive mountains. The Fitz Roy range forms a bowl around El Chalten, its icy peaks staring down without sympathy on the many backpackers and climbers that fill the streets. As we drove along the Rio de Las Vueltas, the river that runs alongside El Chalten, the appearance of tourists, cars and shops did nothing to alleviate the sense of ancient power exuded by the snowy peaks that pierce the clouds like giant swords.
For 17 kilometers we bumped along the dirt road until reaching Los Huemules, where we would spend the next week. The cabin we had rented – more vacation getaway – came equipped with a fireplace, parilla, and 360 degrees views.