To pack or not to pack - Patagonia
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
I'm back from my long holidays where the time flew fast!
My unpacked and empty luggage finally disappeared, I got over the unpacking and reorganizing phase, and let me tell you, there was not much left to be unpacked.
Before I'll write about the nice time I've had in Patagonia, here's a mini-review of what I took with me, what was useful, and also, what could have stayed at home.
El Chaltén fact no. 1 - expect windy like super windy
I knew that it will be windy, but I didn't expect this hurricane-wise weather from time to time. I was in El Chaltén in the middle of March, so the wind was still pretty warm. A huge part of Patagonia is a steppe, which means there are no trees, instead there grow a lot of bushes, it almost never rains - which means very dry and dusty soil.
The dust gets easily into the hurricane air and you're swept together by the wind, with anything flying around which couldn't stick to the ground. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but you definitely feel it :) There's also this very typical noise of metal while it’s being windy (think of roofs, doors, gates) squeaking in the wind.
Also, as soon as you leave the village, the wind will stop, depending on where you are heading. Obviously, on top of the rocks and in flat areas without any trees, especially on the trek to Laguna Torre, you can expect another hit.
I always pack too many things and I also cannot recognize which are the obsolete ones. I've planned a few stops on my way to Patagonia from the airport, in different weather zones, so I needed to pack also for warmer weather and the city of Buenos Aires.
I was glad that I took just one pair of shorts and a few t-shirts, which was enough for the few days spent in Buenos Aires and Trelew.
The rest of the packing content was meant to be more durable, warmer, and dedicated to mountaineering. I had 6 jackets with me, which was obviously 1-2 too many ;)
I also took 2 sleeping bags (for Roberto and me), 2 backpacks (1 big backpack 40-50L and 1 small for multi-pitch climbing), 1 insulation mattress, mountaineering boots, gaiters, trekking shoes, climbing shoes, crampons, 2 pairs of climbing harnesses (light and standard), slings, carabiners, ATC, chalk bag, helmet, 3 pairs of gloves (from warm to thin), 2 thermoses (big and small), 1L Nalgene bottle, a headlamp, a first aid kit with spoon and knife, 1 warm woolen hat, 2 warm headbands, 1 baseball cap, 2 neck scarfs, 3 pairs of pants for mountaineering, 3 pairs of climbing pants and leggings and much more ;)
What I surely didn't use at all were my hardshell pants (these were too warm and too heavy), the big thermos bottle (I always used Nalgene for water) and I could have left home 2 jackets. Also gaiters are not really necessary for walking on the glacier where we’ve been. I had one thick winter jacket which was way too warm and which couldn't be packed and stacked anywhere. Better is to layer up and wear more thin layers, than one big jacket - this is commonly known, but somehow I was afraid that I’ll be cold.
If I would have space, I would take a telescopic walking pole and one extra pair of hiking shoes.
Another very common thing are the quick weather changes. Instead of throwing caution in the wind (literally), better pack for 2-3 weather options in a day. It can be crispy fresh in the mornings, super warm over lunch when you can roll up your sleeves, or wear shorts and a t-shirt, followed by blasting wind accompanied by a little rain shower.
Also, anytime while being close to the ice or the lakes (which are melted ice water), it gets cold quickly. There's a reason why everyone is checking the weather forecast at breakfast and why there are signs "don't open both doors at the same time" in the restaurants or shops.
If you would like to know more, stay tuned, I promise more is coming... :)