Climbing in Argentina’s mountain paradise: Cerro Madsen in El Chaltén

Tomas IchasoDecember 19, 2016

In the south end of Patagonia, El Chaltén is a world-wide renowned destination for mountaineering. After several climbing experiences around the globe, Rusty, an Indian living in the UK, went there with his wife to climb Cerro Madsen. Guided by Sebastián, member of Merlin’s guide team, they made it to the summit. And in Rusty’s own words, it was “probably one of the happiest moments of my life!

When he was a kid living in India Rusty dreamed about climbing high mountains. But always thought he would not be capable of doing it. Then about ten years ago he moved to the UK, where he met his French wife. Together they embarked on many adventures.

Their first experience was Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. They liked the experience so much that they continued seeking for bigger challenges. After summiting a few mountains within England, Scotland and Wales, in 2013 they focused on Africa as their destination. They wanted to avoid the big crowds of Kilimanjaro, so they went up Mt. Kenya. It was their greatest experience at that time and lit a spark within them that continues to this day!

Mt. Kenya, their objective in 2013
Mt. Kenya, their objective in 2013

A bad experience in Nepal didn’t stop their enthusiasm for climbing. They attempted to Island Peak, but poor planning on the summit day led to initial symptoms of altitude sickness. So they had to make the painful decision of turning around only 100 meters below the summit.

At the beginning of this year, before going to Argentina, Rusty discovered Explore-Share, and from then on he stuck to it when looking for a mountain guide and planning adventures. Explore-Share is like a Goldmine for him, and in April he booked a guide from Fred’s team to do a 2-day mountaineering trip in the Mt Blanc range during summer.

Mt. Blanc range
Mt. Blanc range, during their summer trip to the Alps

He was so pleased with the trip that literally a couple of weeks later he came back to Explore-Share looking for a guide for Patagonia. That’s how he contacted Merlín, IFMGA certified guide. Merlín is originally from Bariloche, but was one of the first ones to establish in El Chaltén.

And Rusty was also very satisfied with him: “He was really accommodating in helping us plan the experience and chose a mountain that best suited our capabilities. He was so patient with us, answering about a thousand questions from me. Always extremely helpful, friendly and flexible!

Fitz Roy seen from Cerro Madsen
Pristine day to see Fitz Roy from Cerro Madsen

The program chosen was Cerro Madsen ascent, perfect for anyone looking for a one or two day sustained challenge. From the summit of Cerro Madsen you can enjoy one of the best views of Fitz Roy and Piedras Blancas glacier. The total altitude difference is of 1300 meters, and it takes around 12-14 hours. So it’s important to be in a very good physical condition. But the astonishing view you can enjoy from the top is a great reward. Reaching the summit was the highlight of their entire holiday and the best memory they have from the trip.

Views during Cerro Madsen ascent
Views during Cerro Madsen ascent

The guide for the ascent was Sebastián, a member of Merlin’s guiding team. Both Rusty and his wife were really happy with him: “He is a truly phenomenal guide and mountaineer. He is an extremely capable, knowledgeable, friendly and encouraging person who made us overcome all the obstacles to reach the summit.

El Chaltén offers plenty of possibilities for trekkers, climbers and mountaineers of all levels. From moderate day-hikes to beautiful places like Laguna de los Tres to challenging alpine ascents like Aguja Guillaumet, or week-expeditions to the Patagonian Ice Cap; the range of adventures to choose from is endless. And all of them surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, and the world-known mountain line of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre as a backdrop.

El Chalten famous mountain line
El Chalten famous mountain line

Cerro Madsen was a great choice for Rusty and his wife. They flew back to the UK very pleased with the trip and the guide’s work: “It was an absolutely breathtaking and out of this world experience. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to anyone looking for a similar adventure. My wife and I have used many companies and guides all over the world in the past. But Merlin and Sebastian have definitely set a new benchmark for us that is going to be really hard to beat.”


For their next trip they are thinking of going again to Chamonix to climb one of the famous peaks there, or to return to South America, probably Bolivia or Peru. In any case, we at Explore-Share will be very happy to put them in contact with the best guides there!

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