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Thread: Chile/Patagonia

  1. #1
    Darren H's Avatar
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    Chile/Patagonia

    Anybody here ever photograph in Chile or Patagonia with their large format camera?

    I am looking at cashing in some frequent flier miles and taking two weeks in either Alaska or Patagonia next year. I have been to Alaska and feel it is pretty easy to fly in rent a car, visit several parks, camp, and photograph. I was wondering how easy it would be to do that in Chile?

    Would the experience be similar to travel in Alaska? Or would it be that more people take a bus to the parks? And if so how do you move the 4x5 and all the camping gear/luggage?

    I know alot of folks backpack those areas, but with the legendary poor quality of Patagonian weather, I'd be reluctant to be backpacking with only a bivy sack (like I do here) so I can fit the Arca-Swiss in my pack. So I'd really prefer to have a car and a base camp to hike from. Possible? Best areas to do that?

    Also, if anyone has camped there, were you in 4 season gear? What kind of tent and sleeping bag did you use(20 deg or a zero deg)?

    Lastly, is it a fools errand to try to do large format work in Patagonia with all the wind? I can just see 6 straight days of rain and 40mph winds.......

    Thanks for any info.
    My Arca-Swiss Camera Blog- The Large Format Camera Blog

    My website-WildernessPhotographer

  2. #2

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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren H View Post
    So I'd really prefer to have a car and a base camp to hike from. Possible? Best areas to do that?
    Yes, it's possible. For example, you could fly from Santiago to Coihaique and easily rent a car there (although I'd recommend a pickup truck or 4x4 for the unpaved roads and usual mud). Around the area you have the beautiful and not much visited Cerro Castillo Park (often considered Torres del Paine's unknown brother), the superb Queulat Park plus the Perito Moreno Glacier and Los Alerces Parks on the Argentinian side, amongst other attractives.
    Most people looking for the Patagonia experience fly straight down to Puerto Natales and trek Torres del Paine Park. You could also do this, there are several refuges/lodges along the trails which means that with good planning you could ditch the tent (and the car of course). Torres del Paine is spectacular, but the main trails are crowded.
    As for the weather, yes, expect loads of rain and wind (as a general rule, the Chilean side is rainer but less windier than the Argentinian). This means Gore-tex and NO down. You don't need a 4 season bag either, as it rarely drops from 40F in the summer, but it must be synthetic. Anyway, don't let the weather deter you, the landscape, light and skies are amazing.

    Feel free to post or PM me if you want detailed info or recommendations.

  3. #3

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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Hi Darren,

    I spent a month in Patagonia with my 4x5 camera this last November/December, which is spring/early summer there.

    You can see my photos here: http://www.widerange.org/gallery.php?gallery=patagonia

    I spent half the time in El Chaltén, Argentina, and the other half at Torres del Paine in Chile. If you enjoy backpacking, you'll love backpacking at these places. In El Chaltén, you pretty much have to backpack to get to the good views for the good light. The good news is that you can haul your heavy load to the basecamps, set up camp for several days and do day hikes from there. At Torres del Paine there are more options for shooting from/near the car. Backpacking is also more difficult there due to the longer and steeper trails. On the plus side if you can arrange to stay at the refugios you can greatly lighten your load.

    I didn't have a car there. I flew into El Calafate, Argentina but Puerto Natales, Chile is another option. The busses were easy enough, and I was backpacking pretty much the entire time.

    If you do camp, I would recommend bringing a tent, and a sturdy one at that. Without a tent you'll have no escape from the wind and it will drive you crazy. I brought my winter pyramid tent because I knew it's a champ in the wind, and I was sure glad I had it. My smaller one-man tent would have blown away.

    Speaking of wind, it can definitely be a problem for shooting the 4x5. Many many times I had to stand in front of the camera to block the wind, then wait patiently for a relative lull in the wind to take the shot. Some days the wind was blowing so hard that my only options were to shoot from behind gigantic boulders. I was sure that half my film would turn out blurry, but surprisingly it almost all came out sharp!

    As for gear, definitely bring warm clothes. I brought pretty much the same gear I would normally bring on a chilly late summer/early fall backpacking trip in Colorado. Windproof shell jacket and shell pants, warm layers like wool long underwear and sweater, beanie, gloves and a balaclava for when it's really windy. I used my 15º down bag.

    The mountains are so mind-blowingly incredible there that it's definitely worth putting up with the challenging weather.

  4. #4
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Wow, that's a very beautiful portfolio of your work from Patagonia, Jack- thanks for sharing! Did you make it to the Altiplano?
    Brian Vuillemenot

  5. #5

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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Here is the blog of a well-known Argentianian maker of bamboo fly fishing rods. If you scroll down a bit, he has a very detailed discussion of a fly fishing trip this past January to Patagonia, complete with lots of photos. Draw your own conclusions about the weather: http://calviellorods.blogspot.com/se...&max-results=5

    If you are planning to make photographs while you are there, and aren't completely averse to the MTV generation, you might also find it useful to have a look at Trout Bum Diaries I, about trout fishing in Patagonia, made by these people: http://www.aegmedia.com/ And also, if you aren't already familiar with it, Bruce Chatwin's book In Patagonia.

    This is maybe not a bad place to start for some general info: http://www.flyfishingpatagonia.com/

    Cheers
    Last edited by r.e.; 4-Jun-2008 at 23:00.

  6. #6
    Darren H's Avatar
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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Great information all. Just the sort of stuff I was looking for. I figured to need a good tent and I'd rather camp than stay in the refugios if possible. It does look like I could have a car and that would give me a good place for extra storage of Quickloads, gear, etc. Still to backpack, I may have to look at getting a more compact/lighter camera than the Discovery.

    Jack- you have some amazing images from Patagonia (as well as all over the Rockies). That is exactly the type of trip I would be looking at.

    r.e.-Great links about the fly fishing. I photograph alot more than I fish these days, but still think fishermen and photographers have alot in common.

    Antonio- Great tips on locations, I'll put them on the list too.

    This is looking like a better trip all the time!
    My Arca-Swiss Camera Blog- The Large Format Camera Blog

    My website-WildernessPhotographer

  7. #7

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    Re: Chile/Patagonia

    Brian - Thanks for the compliment! No, I did not make it to the Altiplano. I concentrated solely on El Chaltén and Torres del Paine for the whole month. I hope to return south again this next November and go to some different areas, perhaps the Lakes District.

    Darren - I just sent you a PM.

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