Located right outside the city of Bariloche in Argentina, Frey is a playground for climbers who like long approaches to climb like 4-5 pitches. Just kidding, it’s a beautiful setting and the climbs might not be the longest in the world, but standing on top of a summit the size of a desk with shaky knees and a queasy stomach is pretty memorable.

360 view from the summit of Principle Torre

The climbing at Frey is also a great introduction into Patagonian climbing, with the same characteristics of places like Chalten, just dialed back quite a fair bit. The temps are warmer, being in Northern Patagonia, and the wind can be less strong due to more land mass diffusing the gusts. Also no need for pesky crampons and ice axes.


At home you’ll want to pack a double rack with one 3.5″ cam, and all your camping essentials. A 70m rope is quite important to get down from some climbs like the classic Imaginate.

Single rack for the classic Imaginate is plenty, but our 65ish meter rope barely made one of the raps (the one to the cave)

You’ll want to fly to Buenos Aires and then on to Bariloche. Spend a day to gather gas cans and provisions and you’ll be ready to head into Frey. If you have extra stuff with you that you don’t want to lug in, you can store it at Backpackers Hostel for a bottle of wine when you pick it up. The hostel we stayed at didn’t do luggage storage even though we reserved another night with them after the Frey trip.

We ate a mix of pre bought groceries and pizza from the refugio

Take the 55 at the bus stop marked on the map above, and get off at the last stop. In order to take the bus, you’ll need to buy a SUBE card at any convenience store; just ask the person behind the counter to load it with enough to get to Cerro Catedral (the last stop and trailhead to Frey) and back. The bus leaves every hour but be careful when you are coming out to not come out too late, the last bus is at about 8pm.

Once at the trailhead with your heavy packs, it should take about 3.5hrs to get to the campsites located behind the Refugio. The first few hours are flat, and the last 1-1.5 is steep, but all in all, not a bad hike.

The start of the hike in is marked by this big sign at the back of the parking lot of Cerro Catedral bus stop


  • Diedro de Jim 5.8, Aguja Frey
  • Clemenzo 5.9, Principle Torre
  • Del Frente 5.9, La Vieja
  • Imaginate 5.10, Campanile Esloveno
The Imaginate line on Campanile Esloveno. five great pitches of exposed wild climbing
Last pitch of Imaginate
Two very long pitches of 5.9 get you to the top of Del Frente on La Vieja (left face)
On top of La Vieja, one of the many really cool spires at Frey.
Last pitch of Diedro de Jim (5.8). Doing this climb as one pitch makes a lot of sense. The refugio and campground in the background.


South American summer is the time to visit. We were there mid January and had a week of perfect weather. 70F highs and 40F lows.

Approach to Principle Torre. 2hrs.


The camping at the Refugio is free which is amazing considering there are well maintained flush toilets, a refugio to relax inside of and to buy pizza from. Those guys do a great job so consider donating a few hundred pesos when you’re on your way out.

Our home for a week

It can get windy, it is Patagonia after all, so choosing a site that is protected from the mainly westerly winds, is very important. Staking down your tent securely is also important.


At Frey, you’ll be eating whatever you brought up with you from Bariloche (the supermarket in Bariloche is pinned on the map above). The refugio also makes a pretty good pizza for 400 pesos, a bit more than 10 bucks.

In Bariloche, if you eat steak, you should check out Boliche de Alberto, known for its ribeye. 500g of cow will set you back about 500 pesos, about 15 bucks.

Ojo de bife (ribeye) on the left and bife de chorizo (sirloin) on the right


You can drink tap water in Argentina, and once at Frey, there is a spigot with fresh water that you don’t need to treat. Many if not all the approaches have plenty of water along the way. And no route is more than 6ish pitches (most are 3-5). Bringing a one liter nalgene would be plenty imo, if you’re tight on space.


The lake at Frey is not only beautiful but also a great way to wash off all the sweat and dirt from the tough approaches to most of the spires. Having this awesome lake makes the limiting factor on how long you can stay in Frey to be really just how much food you bring up since you could go swim in the lake every day if you wanted to.

Laguna Toncek in the afternoon sun

Rest Days

You can work on evening out your t-shirt tan by the lake. The sun down here is strong though, so don’t neglect the sunscreen!

Drying off after a quick dip in the cold lake. Principle Torre looming in the background

We didn’t do any climbing down in Chalten or Torres Del Paine, but here’s a little writeup if you head down that way before or after your Frey trip!

Torres Del Paine

Shameless plug: Our undies would treat you well on any climbing or backpacking trip you might go on. Same fabric and quality of Exofficio at a fraction of the cost.

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