Location: Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
Distance: 7.4 km
Time: 3-4 hours
People seen: 2
Guidebook: Fitz Roy trekking map
The hike to Glacier Pollone is a relatively easy half-day trip from Los Troncos campsite in Los Glaciares National Park. The trail is a good way of viewing Lago Electrico and the surrounding glaciers and mountains without embarking on the more technically demanding hikes onto the Patagonian ice sheet.
Straight out of the Los Troncos campsite the path circles behind a hill and then disappears as it crosses a water-logged. There are no trees here and from the start there are clear views down the valley to the mountains and glaciers that separate this section of the park from the Patagonian ice sheet (Hielo del Sur). After a kilometre or so the path hits the shore of Lago Electrico, beautifully grey-coloured, sitting still and somewhat foreboding in a depression between the mountains.
Here the trail to Glacier Pollone bears south (left) to enter the Pollone valley, while the more technical trek to the glaciers and ice sheet beyond continues directly ahead, along the shore of the lake. The Glacier Pollone path climbs quite steeply, contouring the mountain across unstable ground covered in large boulders. The explanation for the strangely smooth patch of ground in the image below became clear to me when I saw the gigantic boulder sitting next to it: the boulder had slid down the mountainside fairly recently, pushing everything else out of its way. Looking up, many more boulders looked poised to join it at any moment.
Any path disappeared completely as I approached the lake below glacier Pollone: the boulders were so large that the easiest way across was to stand on top of them and jump between them.
The large itself, surrounded by a large rocky ridge, does not appear to have a name on the map. From its northern shore Glacier Pollone can be seen peeky from behind the mountains, while Fitz Roy was visible for fleeting moments as the cloud temporarily cleared. As with many of the lakes I came across in Patagonia, the landscape here had a very new, very ephemeral feel to it, as though entire sides of the mountain might come crashing down into the lake at any moment.
Although it would be possible to venture beyond the lake to get a better view of Glacier Pollone, I decided against it, judging the ground to be too unstable. Instead, I ate lunch at the lake side, listening to the sounds of small rock falls high up the mountains, and the echoes of the ice moving far away on the glacier.