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GPT82P (Aysen Glacier Trail)

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* Start Date to Finish Date (use Format YYYY-MMM-DD) / Duration in Days / Hiking or Packrafting / Travel Direction (SOBO for Southbound or NOBO Northbound) / Chosen Route and/or Option Name (RR for Regular Route) / Names or Alias

Summary with remarks to route that are considered useful for other hikers and packrafters. Include alerts, suggestions and personal perception of attractiveness and difficulties.


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Section Log, Alerts and Suggestions

Season 2025/26

Season 2024/25

Season 2023/24

  • 2024-01-09 to 2024-01-13 / 5 days / Packrafting / SOBO / Rio Nef - Lago Nef - Glaciar Nef [Variant C + RP] - Lago Colonia - Rio Colonia [Exploration] - El Manzano [RP + Option 5 + Option 1 / Roman

Route: took a bus to Gate {82P-C} [9.8/220] and used Variant C to cross Rio Baker and Rio Nef via RP to Glaciar Nef. Exploration via Lago Colonia and Rio Colonia to Ford {82P} [111.0/77]. Via RP to this point -47.20671, -72.63424 and took Option 5 to this point -47.141983, -72.720849 and took option Option 01 to get to the Street Carretera Austral.

Started in Puerto Tranquilo after GPT33H. There is an official Bus to Puerto Bertrand, the bus continues to Cochrane - so it was no problem to get directly dropped off at the Gate {82P-C} [9.8/220]. Bus departs daily at 1 o’clock (departure and further information here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/fHUjAEDtf4fW5Jxv5?g_st=ic / +56 9 9413 8195). It’s easy to get to the river and to cross Rio Baker. I was there at 3PM and had a strong wind from south which made the crossing easier. The trail to Rio Nef is very good and I met Tres Marias, Aquilino Olivares. Crossing Rio Nef is also easy. After that good trail and CC. Camped here: -47.128611, -72.943056 at 08:30 PM. The Trail and the CC is very easy up to the start of the BB&CC Section here: -47.139511, -73.097292 (which is trail condition wise the worst section). The climb is ok even though there is no real trail (great view at the pass here: -47.139704, -73.112711. The way down is hard and sometimes without trail. Still follow the GPS because if there is a trail it’s worth following. Arrived at 04:30 PM at Lago Nef with wind from NW 15 km/h. I decided to camp here: -47.1089, -73.18915 and cross the next morning (06:50 AM). No wind - flat surface. Because of - C° the edge of the lake was frozen with ice (2-6mm). I recommend to scout a route trough the ice before you enter you packraft. In my situation due the the NW Wind most of the ice was in the S bay. This depends highly on the wind situation in which you arrive at the lake and has therefore an impact if at all and how easy to can enter or exit the lake. Due to the Situation I went in the water here: -47.109632, -73.185683 and needed to get through 100-200m of ice which I could destroy with my paddle before reaching open water. I stuck to the northern shore until the middle of the lake and crossed than to the exit point here: -47.08211, -73.236963. Here my recoding starts.

The next part up to this point: -47.082778, -73.250556 is Scrambling over the edge of the glacier (Gravel, Sand, Boulders, etc.). This is quite slow because you need to find a suitable path to avoid the frozen ice where a 1-5cm of gravel is - this is slippery and not stable (no special equipment needed). After this section it’s very easy CC up to this point: -47.100066, -73.253699. Here the trail starts - the beginning not super visible but still easy to hike because it’s only low growing vegetation. The Trail remains in ok condition and fairly easy to follow I would say I got 90-95% accuracy. The Trail continues up to this point: -47.144167, -73.261667. From there up to my campsite it’s very hard sand and very easy to hike CC. Along the way you can always pitch a tent and get water. I arrived at my camp at ~5 PM with a great view but no water here: -47.193118, -73.251086. CC continues. There follow the GPS and stay high. There is a weather station here: -47.201825, -73.255403 so A: you have a good weather forecast for the region B: it’s a hypothesis from my side why the trail now becomes even better - people take it for maintenance/science exploration. Here -47.209684, -73.234415 the Trail (visible also in satellite) and CC starts. Good trail easy to follow. An absolutely incredible Campside also with an amazing chance to take a bath or even to jump in the small pool (https://www.flickr.com/photos/165990868@N03/31348811937/) is here: -47.223611, -73.22071. If you can arrange it I would definitely pitch tent here. The Trail and CC continues up to this point: -47.228513, -73.213717. Here it’s only trail (follow the GPS! It’s a very steep start but you have to take it) in very good condition (estimated accuracy 95-100%) up to this point: -47.251483, -73.193713. After that’s it’s CC only until Lago Colonia. There are some parts of the Trail which are due to the steepness I guess quite difficult when wet. As well would like to give the same warning as GPT33H exposed steep parts (Hikers with vertigo (acrophobia / fear of height) will find these trail segments scary and tripping in these parts can be fatal.). You will reach the Camp of this company: https://www.patagoniaadventureexpeditions.com/ here: -47.247844, -73.196981 , https://imgur.com/DZznI8m. As mentioned after the Trail part it’s CC to the lake. I arrived at 01:00 PM with 10-15 km/h wind from NNW I decided to cross the lake because the wind should be getting worse the next days. There are tons of exit opportunities in the NE side of the lake. After crossing (wind was stable for the 1.75 h) I approached the first rapid (Rapid {82P} [91.7/145]). I misjudged the rapid and capsized and lost my main phone (with images and further GPS information) in my opinion it’s not possible to go over this rapid in a safe manner so: carry your boat around it - there is gravel/boulder on the N shore. This packrafting and carrying you packraft around rapids goes roughly to this point: -47.3275, -72.988333. Due to my limited experience place evaluate the Rapids individually and based on your own experience. At a certain point it becomes a fast flowing (8-10 km/h) river which is beautiful. You will have occasional ground contact the hole section. You have to take a very very small arm here: -47.307019, -72.912594 where you either have ground contact or you need to hop out for 10m. After that you can exit here Ford {82P} [111.0/77]. Pitched tent at 08:00 PM here: -47.302074, -72.910947. Got here: -47.300835, -72.912555 a lift the next morning all the way to El Manzano (-47.127835, -72.703766) via Option 5 and Option 1. The local said that he is uncertain if hikers (or generally people who are not in a car are allowed to use the ferry because of some regulations and the “friendliness” of the two operator. There supposed to be also a bus from where I camped to the ferry twice a week, but I don’t have any information about it. So worst case you have to hike the 30 km to the ferry - during the lift there where quite a few people to possible to get a lift or continue via GPT36P as an idea. After reaching El Manzano you can hop on the same bus which is going between Puerto Río Tranquilo and Cochrane or hitchhike.

Further Challenges:

SoBo/NoBo - I would recommend going SoBo because of the possibility of ice and icebergs on Lago Ned which make a turnaround easier. To have progressively better trail towards the end. Have a good trail in case Rio Colonia is not packraftable. Have a hut at Lago Colonia in case if a bad weather period.

Packraft required: you need to be aware that as soon as you crossed either Lago Nef (SoBo) or Lago Colonia (NoBo) there is no “only hiking route” out of there. So you are dependent on the circumstances. Exception taking route Option 02 which is experimental therefore I wouldn’t consider this an option.

Icebergs: If the wind is coming from an unfavorable direction the days before you arrive it will push the icebergs either towards the lake entry or exit which could prevent entering or exiting. Which would result in a waiting time or you have to turn around.

Ice: I was surprised to wake up to a layer of ice in the lake if there haven’t been anything on the day before. It was possible to destroy the ice while being in the packraft to have a “channel” where you than can go to open water but I thing this isn’t a method which is in the books. So if you go in a time where you have negative temperature during the night I would recommend crossing the lake in the late evening if the wind came down and there is no ice. But keep in mind the next place to pitch a tent is from here on forwards and crossing the glacier outskirts in dim light isn’t recommended: -47.087778, -73.256944 (wind protected, water, flat, good ground).

Cachet II: The River sometimes grows immensely covering its surroundings with water. This happens occasionally when the glacier ice blocks the river from flowing down to the Colonia Lake. From 2008 to 2017 filling and emptying happened frequently.

Overall: Awesome tour with in incredible iceberg, glacier, lake and dessert like views. If you made it to Lago Nef the most difficult trail part is done. It’s a really adventurous route but the trail is in really good condition on day 2 and in ok condition on day 1. If there is no trail is super easy CC. One of the best sections I have done so far!

Trail & Information Marker download (GPX&KML): https://1drv.ms/f/s!AqzLweJ3NZW5q7oHag2K7Y4fp14ySw

Contact: https://linktr.ee/RundW

Season 2022/23

  • 2023-Feb-02 to 2023-Feb-06 / 5 days / Rio Nef - Lago Nef - Glaciar Nef and return on the same route / West and Eastbound / Packrafting / Meylin Ubilla, Masha Ovchinnikova, Misha Bogdanov, Jan Dudeck

The Aysen Glacier Trail combines several long-established horse trails with motor boat crossings of Lago Plomo, Lago Colonia and Rio Colonia and a 5 km long traverse of Glaciar Nef. The egress and exit by motor boat and the glacier traverse makes this an rather exclusive route that is not easily done unsupported. Also, the land owners at Lago Plomo and Lago Colonia collaborate closely with the company that offers guided tours on the Aysen Glacier Trail for several thousand USD per person.

See: http://www.patagoniaadventureexpeditions.com/the-aysen...

Attempting the Aysen Glacier Trail without this company requires:

1. A mountain guide that is familiar with this route and the glacier terrain and that can provide the mountaineering equipment for the glacier traverse. Nelson Baigorria (+56 9 6640 9400) is such a guide with lots of local expertise.

2. Permission and motor boat transfer from Puerto Bertrand to the western terminus of Lago Plomo. Crossing Lago Plomo by packraft is an option but requires optimal weather and may result in additional waiting time as the predominant wind direction is against the travel direction.

3. Permission and motor boat transfer of Lago Colonia and Rio Colonia. Crossing Lago Colonia by packraft is an suitable alternative as the predominant wind direction is in travel direction but this requires an extra free seat for the guide.

Due to time and weather constraints we opted against the Aysen Glacier Trail this season and choose to explore the valley of Rio Nef instead that potentially provides access to the Aysen Glacier Trail on an alternative route with less right-of-way conflicts.

The trail head is situated just south of the confluence of Rio Nef into Rio Baker and can be reached on several routes:

Option 1 (without packraft): 33 km on road from Cochrane via Carretera Austral, bridge over Rio Baker “El manzano” to “El Maiten”.

Option 2 (with packraft): Bus from Cochrane or Puerto Bertrand to Confluencia Rio Nef, walking 1.2 km to Rio Baker, packraft crossing of Rio Baker, walking 2 km to Rio Nef and packraft crossing of Rio Nef.

Option 3 (with packraft, some whitewater): Packrafting Rio Baker from Puerto Bertrand to the river exit BEFORE the the major rapids of Rio Baker start. You may discuss your plans with a rafting company in Puerto Bertrand to send heavy gear with the raft and packraft in the vicinity of the raft and the safety kayakers that accompany the raft.

From the trail head at “El Maiten” a well maintained 26 km long trail leads along the southern side of Rio Nef to the Tapera Cadagan. There are several abandoned “poblaciones” along the route. Access to drinking water is sufficient to refill a water bottle every hour or two. Also suitable camp sites can be found every hour or two.

After reaching Tapera Cadagan the trail becomes barely visible and poorly maintained. The route traverses the adjacent mountain. Enough water should be carried from the last river ford, especially on a warm sunny days. After the 740 m high pass the route descends towards the forest. In the forest the trail is somewhat better visible but remains poorly maintained. In parts the route traverse open terrain next to Rio Nef without any visible trail. The last 2 km to the Lago Nef is an uncomplicated cross-country traverse. A camp site should be chosen based on the required wind protection.

Packrafters can inflate their packrafts on a calm early morning or evening to cross the 5 km short lake to the glacier fron. Sufficient safety distance should be maintained to the glacier and stranded and floating blocks of ice.

A brief visual inspection and a drone video makes it appear feasible to walk from the southwestern terminus of the lake to the main route of the Aysen Glacier Trail without mountaineering equipment but this remains to be verified.

When returning on the same hiking route packrafters must walk at least to Camp (-47.1502 / -73.0501). There the rapids of Rio Nef are left behind and Rio Nef becomes a fast-flowing falt-water river with some boils. The former trail to the river is in parts still visible and 2 to 4 hours of machete work are required to clear especially the final 200 m to the river access. This is best done by a team of at least 2 persons with at least 2 machetes.

The return by packraft requires about 2 hours. Make sure to exit Rio Nef BEFORE the rapids and the confluence into Rio Baker.

Note: We documented this route

Season 2021/22

Season 2020/21

Season 2019/20

Season 2018/19

Season 2017/18

Season 2016/17

Resupply and Accommodation

Resupply and Accommodation in nearby Towns

Resupply and Accommodation along the Route

Transport to and from Route

Permits, Entry Fees and Right-of-Way Issues

Links to other Resources

Retired Section Article GPT82P - Travesía Soler-Nef

Retired Section Article GPT83P - Travesía Nef-Colonia

Images

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