Hielo Azul, More than a Glacier

Amidst the silence, hiking around mountain shelters represents an excellent way to leave stress and urban noise behind.

The steep surroundings of the City of El Bolsón invite visitors to go uphill and find very attractive spots. Climbing is as appealing as the views featured by these locations. One of them is Cerro Hielo Azul (Mount Blue Ice), reaching 1,500 meters of height. We headed for Club Andino Piltriquitrón Shelter, which stands on top of this mount. Even in the summer, the summit is covered by snow. The rocky platform is surrounded by a lenga woodland area. A log cabin offers lodging year round. We walked for six hours to go up and four to go down. It is a 1,200-meter slope; therefore, it is quite steep a climb. We left the city and followed the course of the Azul River up to the campsite called Hue Naim, which lies 8 kilometers away. The path is well marked and it goes over the Azul River at 300 meters MSL. Several creeks are crossed, though some of them are dry in the summer. Then, the vegetation becomes stunted and the marshland known as Mallín de los Palos appears. From that point on, the slope becomes steeper. However, the effort is compensated when a high rock with a very beautiful view of the Raquel River -running 200 meters below- is reached. Then the path forks and we took the trail on the left. The slope was softer now. We bordered Teno Creek and got to the famous shelter.

  • Blue Ice Shelter

    Blue Ice Shelter

  • Blue Ice Shelter

    Blue Ice Shelter

  • The Blue Ice massif in autumn

    The Blue Ice massif in autumn

  • The river and its beautiful landscape

    The river and its beautiful landscape

  • Blue Glacier Ice

    Blue Glacier Ice

  • The Blue Ice massif in winter

    The Blue Ice massif in winter

  • The summit

    The summit

There are several excursions available at this point and they all feature different traits. A visit to the Hielo Azul Glacier and the top of the Barda Negra Glacier are some of the options but they require more time and also camping. For us, the tour ended there. We were happy to catch the panoramic sight and to have tested our strength during a mountain outing we would never forget. This refuge belongs to the Andean Club Piltriquitrón, was made in 1958, with wood that was hacked from the surrounding forest. It should be noted that the original cabin was made entirely of ax, with a roof of cypress roofs. The height at which it is located is 1300 meters above sea level, at the edge of the high forest. From that height begin the squat Lengas and the pedreros. The refuge has running water, hot shower and bathrooms from spring to late autumn. During winter the comforts are restricted due to the harsh weather. It also has 12 volt DC electricity that is generated by a micro hydraulic turbine and a photovoltaic solar panel, non-polluting energy installed by current shelters. This energy serves to power a VHF communications system, some lighting and functional music.

Autor Mónica Pons

Recommendations It is advisable to go out in groups. Make sure you use water to put out the fire you light. Carry appropriate gear as well as clothes and footwear. Pack water and food.

Activities and Tours in El Bolsón

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