Friday, 4 October 2019

Trekking in Ushuaia, End of the World

Stream and rest spot along trail to Cerro del Medio, Ushuaia. Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.
Early spring has arrived in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. The snowy season hasn’t gone yet this year, so I thought it a good time to take advantage of a relatively good day and trek to one of the mountains directly behind Ushuaia, Cerro del Medio (middle mountain). 

I headed off from 25 de Mayo street, pretty much in the centre of town, and ascended almost directly towards the mountains. After a few sets of stairs and short trail sections, I left the last houses behind onto the trail proper. This enters the forest where there was still a fair amount of snow although also a few muddy sections. 
Cerro del Medio forest section of the trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
Ascent through the forest.
Half an hour later on the trail it was only snow and the forest was looking amazing. Initially always on one or other side of the stream coming down, the sound of the bubbling water mixing with bird calls made for a tranquil atmosphere. In the first parts there were also various tracks in the snow, compacted to ice by many feet. This diminished substantially as I ascended more. 
Stream along the Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
Resting spot next to a stream running down from the mountain.
I reached a beautiful spot with a little bridge over the stream where there were also a few seats and a table made from cut tree trunks. (3.9km) From here there was only 2 sets of tracks continuing further up the mountain...and deeper snow. For the ascent I was using these tracks, limiting my chances of trekking deep and soft snow. 
Views from Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
View across Ushuaia toward the island of Navarino (Chile).
Although not steep, the trail was now constantly ascending and with the snow, becoming a bit energy-sapping at times. But, following the tracks was helping a lot and soon I was leaving the forest out onto the open snow slopes of the mountains. The views were just simply spectacular surrounded by a variety of peaks, the majority with their jagged splendour. 
Views of the Beagle Channel from the Cerro del Medio trail. Ushuaia, Argentina
View southeast toward the Beagle Channel.
During the trek through the forest, the trail is marked with yellow markers and reflectors on trees at reasonably regular intervals. Out here in the open snow, there were yellow stakes with reflectors - probably also at regular intervals but some were completely buried in the snow. At least I had the 3-4 day old tracks to follow and the gps, so I wasn’t going to get lost soon. 
Snow trail ascending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
Final sections: from here still had 20min to go.
The trail enters a type of valley between the mountains and then turns west up a ridge. Here the snow was getting decidedly deeper, even on the tracks at average 30-40cm. On the ridge and a bit of a scree slope not covered by snow (only about 10m wide) the trail turns heads almost south, approaching the summit from the “back”. Much steeper here with even deeper snow, the going was slow but I was close and motivated. 
Summit of Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
View east toward Monte Olivia (in the foreground) 
and Cinco Hermanos behind that.
The best of all is that as I reached these parts, the sun came out and stayed out. Even better was, hardly any wind!! With only a breeze and the sun shining, this was an absolutely winner of a day. So with everything now lit up with only some dark clouds as backdrop across the Beagle Channel, I reached the summit of Cerro del Medio at 948m altitude after 6.9km and 3h15. 
View over Ushuaia from summit of Cerro del Medio. Argentina
View from the summit: Ushuaia, the airports and the Beagle Channel
bordered in the south by the island of Navarino (Chile).
Just absorbing the views around me I was lost for words to describe really how breathtaking these views were. From the snow-covered mountains behind me, to the mountains and Beagle Channel east of Ushuaia, to the city, bay and airports below me to the west with the Chilean mountains west of Navarino Island. 
View over Ushuaia from summit of Cerro del Medio. Argentina
View across the Beagle Channel more west.
I had a flask of coffee with me so I was enjoying something warm to drink, not that it was actually cold. In the distance off the west though, the wind was starting to whip up the water so this peak would pretty soon be a very blowy place...time to head down. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
More summit views of the neighbouring mountains.
This time following on the tracks was not an option. With them being partially frozen, they’re super slippery on a descent so I descended to one side of them through the softer snow, many times at least knee deep. Just before the forest and inside, the snow was substantially deeper - hip deep. Even though I was descending reasonably quickly, there was not a moment I could take my eyes off the trail. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
On the descent at the rest spot and its little bridge.
All went well and I finally hit the streets of Ushuaia again. Arriving at the hostel (Refugio del Mochilero), I had completed 13.3km and a descent in 1h50. 
What a fantastic trek and straight from town and without needing any transport. I can really recommend this trek which in summer might be a bit easier in some senses without the snow. 
Descending Cerro del Medio. Ushuaia, Argentina
Part of the last 30min of the ascent - 
Cerro Dos Banderas looming east of the trail.


1 comment:

  1. πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ‘⛄❄ Fantastic, Marcell and stunningly beautiful views too. I enjoyed each photo and your extra bits of info,makes for excutingvreading. πŸŽ‰πŸ‘πŸ˜€ Well done,my adventurous son. ❤😘😘😎❤