El Rincón (Perito Moreno National Park)
The 37,500-acre Estancía El Rincón lies right below Cerro San Lorenzo, the second-highest peak in Chilean Patagonia and a major challenge for mountaineers. In May 2013, Doug Tompkins and Conservacion Patagonica donated this property to the Argentine Parks Administration to expand the adjacent Perito Moreno National Park.
Doug Tompkins acquired this private ranch of approximately 37,000 acres on the flanks of the Andes in Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province in 1992, and subsequently donated it to the Conservation Land Trust. The overarching goal was to restore its degraded grasslands, preserve the land’s ecological integrity, and eventually donate the property to expand the adjacent Perito Moreno National Park. CLT subsequently conveyed the property to Conservacion Patagonica, which will oversee its protection until the Argentine national parks administration can assure its perpetual care.
The Lacteo (“milky”) River runs through the main valley at El Rincón. The river is fed by the great glaciers covering Cerro San Lorenzo, one of the most majestic mountains in Patagonia. El Rincon is located on the southern slope of this mountain, the second highest peak in the Patagonian Andes. Cerro San Lorenzo’s dramatic southeast face has tormented climbers of international caliber; it is of Himalayan proportions, exceedingly difficult and perilous, and remains unclimbed as of 2010.
El Rincón’s previous owners had allowed severe overgrazing by domestic livestock. Since it was purchased for conservation and the livestock were removed, the grasslands at El Rincon have shown strong recovery, and the forest cover on each side of the valley is expanding. Conservation biologists believe that huemul deer eventually may recolonize the area, since the neighboring national park contains a population of this endangered species. The landscape qualities of El Rincón and the rest of Perito Moreno National Park make the region an exceptional example of wilderness in an overdeveloped world, precious both for the land’s beauty and biological value.