Land of Giants

Port and Parajumpers explore the wild, untamed mountains of Patagonia

Patagonia is a place of mountains and empty steppes, of earth turned by glacier and river and lake. Split by the Andes between Chile and Argentina, it tapers into the Antarctic Ocean at the end of the South American continent: “The furthest place,” as Bruce Chatwin once wrote, “to which Man walked from his place of origin.” It remains one of the least populated areas of the world, untroubled by human intervention, explored from the air by only a few intrepid aviators. Port joined Jaime Fernández of Barraco Lodge, in the wild, untamed land of giants.

“We never intended for the lodge to be public – the tourists would all go to the lakes in summer, not the mountains. I came here to ski in ’88, flying a little plane over from Chile, and fell in love with the incredible turquoise river that runs past. I found a house that had been the home of the local chief of the Mapuches – the indigenous people who resisted the Spanish – and renovated it, always trying to stay true to the traditions of those people, using the same materials, the same style.” 

“Three or four seasons ago we opened the lodge to the public. I think it’s been successful because it is authentic – you feel like you are in the home of a friend, not just a boutique hotel, and we can offer some incredible experiences: skiing volcanoes, jet boat tours, helibiking…”

“Beautiful lakes surrounded by vast glaciers; the sea; flat valleys with hidden spots to fish – they are all within 15 or 30 minutes of flying. It’s a landscape that changes so much with the seasons; it’s all snowy peaks when you fly in winter, when, before that, in the autumn, there is so much colour – reds and yellows and oranges. I like it best in winter though, that’s when it’s most impressive.”

“The main challenge is the wind. They call it the ‘Roaring Forties’, and then the ‘Furious Fifties’ down at Cape Horn – the further south you go the windier it gets. Being at latitude 37 we don’t get a constant wind, but when a front passes by, usually from the Pacific Ocean, there is high wind, bad visibility, rain. If you run into trouble, if the engine in the boat fails or the helicopter doesn’t start, you are suddenly in a critical situation: It’s a long hike to get to safety.”

“Most of all it’s the solitude that kept bringing me back here. You’re really alone and always discovering new places – hidden coves or peaks or valleys. For this shoot we went up to a lake called ‘The Unexplored’, so called because it’s very difficult to get there by foot, bike or horse. You have to use a helicopter. We might be the only people who go there, and when we do it is a different landscape, new scenery again.” 

Production La Casa Films and Stills Special thanks to Axel and all at Barraco Lodge

Outerwear Parajumpers AW19 throughout

Photography Frédéric Lagrange

Styling Dan May