Up the Carretera

Sunset in Chaitén, Chile

Greetings from Chaitén, Chile! It’s been a bit since I blogged, so let me update you all.

When I last wrote we had just done a backpacking trip in the Tamango Reserve in Cochrane, Chile. After Tamango we planned a climbing trip to San Lorenzo, a 12,000 foot mountain about 20 miles south east of Cochrane. We picked an unusual route, so we weren’t sure exactly how it would go. But of course, it was an adventure!

We payed the local tour company in Cochrane to drive us and then boat us across a large lake at the base of the Callequeo glacier.

A few crazy Chilean climbers told us this route would go, to the summit to San Lorenzo. But what a route! We set out expedition style, 8 days of food packed. Way too much weight. If we had done this alpine style, I think the result may have been way different. It’s about 9,000 feet vertical from the base of the glacier to the summit.

The first day up San Lorenzo we started up the glacier. Walking up the glacier was quite magical. But by 3pm we thought we may have lost the route. The ice fall had quickly turned in 20 foot head walls, something we didn’t have time for that afternoon. So, to avoid sleeping in a crevasse that night, we descended nearly 1800′ feet back down to the lake.

Monte San Lorenzo

Hard to complain with views like this

When I got back down to the lake I realized how bad my feet were. A little bit of frostbite, a little bit of toe bang, and just many miles and vertical feet of hiking and climbing the last 5 months has done a number on my feet. I couldn’t take it anymore, I decided I had to head back to town to go to the doctor.

I felt awful. We would have tried the route again the next day. I was disappointed myself, but mainly I felt bad for my friends. It was my fault we couldn’t try to climb this mountain. They couldn’t climb as a two person rope team.

I hitched a ride back to town the next day with a tour group, feeling incredibly crappy.

I headed to the doctor when I got back to town that night. She pretty much told me I needed to chill out. Missing toenails, swollen heals, the unfortunate truth is that I’m at the end of the trip physically. Hopefully with the medication she gave me I heal up for another climb or two.

I felt bad for Peter and Emil. They stayed at the lake for another two days, heading up to the glacier to practice ice climbing, crevasse rescue, and just basic climbing techniques. I’m glad they made the most of their time, but of course I still feel awful about it. On the bright side it was a great learning opportunity for Peter. I’m glad Emil got to practice his skills and teach Peter some new ones.

After Peter and Emil got back from San Lorenzo, we started making our way north up the Caretera. The first step was a 7 hour bus ride to Coyhaique.

Coyhaique is the capitol is the Aiysen region of Chile. We saw a traffic light for the first time in nearly a month!

Coyhaique was a cool city. It’s the base for adventures in Chilean Patagonia. If we had just a bit money (lol) we would have gone to one of the many famous fly fishing lodges near Coyhaique.

We spent a day and half in Coyhaique. Mostly sleeping and downloading Netflix, but we had a good time visiting the Patagonia store in Patagonia!

Next we started our journey to Chaitén.

For the last month a portion of the Northern Carretera Austral has been closed due to a landslide. Because of this, the government has been offering free ferry’s to bypass this road closure. And boy did this work in our favor…

From Coyhaique we took a 7 hour bus to the town of La Junta. What a ride. We went to a temperate rainforest quite quickly. It felt like Peru all over again.

We spent the night in La Junta. Well, it was quite a short stay. We woke up for the 5:30am bus to Port Raul Marin Balcemeda. This is where the fun began.

A free 7 hour ferry to Chaitén! Shoutout to the Chilean government! I read online that we may see dolphins on the ferry, and well, just 30 minutes into the ferry I saw two Austral Dolphins! Very special.

Most of the ride we were on the open pacific, but some of the ride we could admire Parque National Corcovado to our east. It was a mysterious vibe in the cloud and rain. We had such a good time on the ferry. By far the best free excursion I’ve done this entire trip.

And when we were docking in Chaitén we saw 6 dolphins not far from shore!

Chaitén is a small port town in the Lakes district of Chile. In 2008, volcán Chaitén erupted and destroyed much of the town. At first the government wanted to move the town 10km south, but the few and proud citizens wanted to rebuild. It’s amazing how this small town has rebuilt in the last 9 years.

Volcán Chaitén

Chaitén is also known for being close to Pumalin Park. Pumalin Park is another project by the Tompkins conservation. Before it was recently handed over to the Chilean government, this was the largest piece of private property in the world!

The next few days we are planning on exploring the park. Waterfalls, ancient forests, and volcanoes await us!

My next blog will be photos and explanation of our time in Pumalin Park. So stoked! Honoring Doug Tompkins by visiting one of his first projects.



Pacific Ocean!

One thought on “Up the Carretera

  1. Jack dear. Worried about your feet. Seems like there really ain’t no free lunch. Sounds like this last part of trip will be quite beautiful Happy Valentines Day. Love to my favorite male valentine! G,ma

    Liked by 1 person

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