Seeing the Fitz Roy from Laguna de Los Tres (Take 2: Sunrise)

After a first beautiful but disappointing climb to Laguna de Los Tres in which I couldn’t see any hint of the Fitz Roy from the summit, I toyed with the idea of going back up before I left El Chaltén. I kept an eye on the weather, and my last day appeared to be perfect. Low wind, minimal cloud cover, good temperature. Here was a chance that would be difficult to get again!

If I did go back, I wanted to see the Fitz Roy at sunrise. However, since sunrise was around 5:30, this required waking up at at least 3am, even though I didn’t care about being at the summit for sunrise, just as long as I could see the sun light up the Fitz Roy. I floated the idea out to some fellow travelers at the hostel I was staying at, but even I wasn’t totally convinced I would actually do it.

Surprisingly, two other people were up for the sunrise hike! All of a sudden I had commitment and peer pressure, and it was on.

We woke up at 3am, had a small breakfast together, and set out at around 3:45am. Though the sky was dark, we saw glimmering stars – a good sign!

The town of El Chaltén was well lit with street lamps, but as soon as we got to the trailhead for Laguna de Los Tres, it was pitch black. We only had our headlamps to rely on as we forged into the darkness. On the other side, though, the sun was starting to light up the sky behind El Chaltén.

Around 4km in, we arrived at the mirador for our first full look at the Fitz Roy. All clear! We couldn’t believe our luck. It was only around 5:10, though, so we decided to see how far we could get before the sun broke through the horizon.

From there, the trail dipped into a forest, but half an hour later we emerged onto a clearing just in time to see the tip of the Fitz Roy lit up by the sun. Here, we set up shop, until the sun bathed the entire Fitz Roy and eventually the entire hillside in a warm pink and then a bright orange.

With no more time pressure, we made our way to the summit at an easier pace. Somehow, when we arrived at the top, the view of the Fitz Roy was even clearer than before! A beautiful blue bird day, a post card scene that I assumed could only happen a few times a year.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have too much time at the top, since I had to make it back down into town for an afternoon bus. But I was so grateful for this second, last-minute chance to see the Fitz Roy in all its glory.

I’m ultimately glad that I didn’t go back up to the summit on my first hike up to laguna de Los Tres, since I might not have done this second hike if I had. And I’m very grateful to my friends in the hostel who joined me and gave me the little extra push I needed to commit to the sunrise hike. Sometimes you win the weather lottery, and sometimes you lose. But if you try again, it can definitely pay off!

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