Serene and I left for El Chalten the day after returning to Puerto Natales from Torres del Paine; Ray headed home that same day and missed out on a week of great weather. We left Puerto Natales at 830 am on a Cootra bus, arriving at El Calafate around 1 pm, and then caught the Chalten Travel bus at 630 pm, before finally arriving at El Chalten around 11 pm.
In El Chalten, we stayed at Thiamalu, a small bed and breakfast near the center of town. The proprietress and her husband were very warm and we had a very pleasant stay. We also enjoyed the food at Patagonicus and the ice cream and chocolate at Del Bosque. In general, we enjoyed our time in Argentina more than Chile; the people we met in Argentina were warm, friendly, and Argentina is much cheaper than Chile. It didn't hurt that we had a week of perfect weather in Argentina, which was a welcome change from our time in Torres del Paine. Despite the bright sunny skies, I was again foiled by clouds on the horizon when I tried to get sunrise and sunset alpenglow photos.
We did an overnight backpacking trip while in El Chalten, spending one night in Campamento Poincenot and hiking up before sunrise to Laguna de los Tres in the hopes of seeing sunrise alpenglow on the Fitzroy massif (foiled again by clouds). While in Poincenot, we hiked to Laguna Piedras Blancas as well. The second day, we hiked the Madre y Hija trail to Laguna Torre before heading back out to El Chalten. Cerro Torre is probably the most spectacular mountain I've seen so far and we were fortunate to see it on a day with clear blue skies. The clear sunny day heated up to a sweltering 90 F / 32 C while we were hiking out.
While hanging out in El Chalten on our last day there, I met Fabrizio Zangrilli, a veteran of 7 or 8 8000 m peaks, who was there to climb Cerro Torre. Fabrizio was kind enough to spare a few hours and several emails sharing his knowledge of high altitude mountaineering (Thanks Fabrizio!).