Posted by: Talie Morrison | February 19, 2010

Circuito Chico

Having a window of clear weather, Therese and I put together our gear and supplies to do the Circuito Chico.   Our trekking book listed it as an easy to moderate hike – I would beg to differ with that description after having done it!   We started off with a gondola ride up the ski area of Cerro Catedral and then a chair lift a bit higher.

Cerro Catedral GondolaSecnd chair lift - with Bariloche in the background

After the second chair, we still had about a half hour climb to the top of the ridge where we felt like we would start our hike.   The views from the top were outstanding!!!

That is the easiest part of the trail for the next 2 days!

If you think that it looks steep out there – you are totally right!   It was some interesting hiking  – would have been really fun without our full backpacks!

That's Mt. Tranador in the distance

So this hike is best described with photos – so here is a photo journal of our day’s hike getting to the Frey Hut.

All we are tring to do is "connect the dots"!

See the guy on the rocks? That's the trail we had just come over! Way fun!

Looking over Lake Schmoll - from here it is all down (but tomorrow we have to come back up all this way!)

That's what the trail down to Schmoll looked like... trail?

Refugio Frey on Lake Toncek

It was fun spending the night at Refugio Frey – which was very full!   The next day they were having a rock climbing festival – with climbing competitions,  movies, music and lots more people!   So our decision was: do we stay and watch the rock climbers, do we go on to Refugio San Martin, or do we go down the easy way???    It took a good night’s sleep to give us the impetus to climb all the way back up above Lake Schmoll and continue on to San Martin — but that was what we did.

Sunrise on the rocks above Refugio Frey

Back up at Laguna Schmoll (the second climb is behind us)

Down into the next valley! That's the scree slope we came down!

So the trail took us up and over this ridge –   It is basically well marked with red dots (just keep connecting the dots!) but the trail itself leaves a lot to be desired.   It was basically straight down this dirt/scree/loose rock slope – more fun!    But then we got to walk along the valley floor, till we had to go up and over another pass.

At the topo of the pass!

Then for our last downhill of the day, it was rocks and loose stuff again pretty much straight down to Laguna Jacob and Refugio San Martin.

Refugio San Martin on Lake Jacob (or is it Refugio Jacob on Lake San Martin?) 🙂

This refugio was not quite as crowded as Frey – but what a beautiful setting, eh?   The refugio is sitting on that rock outcrop at about “5 o’clock” on the lake.    There were only 2 other guys (one from Finland, and one from Germany)  who hiked from Frey to San Martin – and they were also pretty amazed at the route!

So after another well deserved night’s rest, we thought we would finally have a nice easy walk out…. well, easier …   But then there was the crossing above the waterfall, and the ladder along the rock which was sloping downwards, until finally a nice dirt trail for about the last 2 hours!

We wanted to experience Patagonia – and this is the way to do that!

Bunk room at Refugio San Martin

Another beautiful waterfall

This crossing is actually between two waterfalls!

A bit of a "slope" to that ladder....

Finally - now that's a trail! And a "flowered trail" at that!

Lillies along the trail

For now, my good weather karma is used up.   I’m in El Bolson waiting for it to stop raining!   But I’ve gotten a cold, so probably good to take a bit of a rest!



  1. Talie,
    Beautiful pictures! Looks like a great time! Hope that you are feeling a bit better from your cold. We are in Bolivia now with only two weeks left. It is a different world here, but very beautiful. What are your plans for the rest of the trip?
    We miss you!

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