Thanks to famous conservationists Doug and Kris Tomkins, an additional 37,500 acres has been added to Perito Moreno National Park. The couples’ contribution via their organization Conservacion Patagonica is the largest land donation in Argentine history and will not only help preserve the landscape, but also safeguard the path to the region’s second highest peak.
Visitors to the newly conserved area, known as El Rincon, will now have access to the Lácteo River Valley. This region is of particular interest to climbers who covet the first ascent of the south wall of San Lorezo.
Doug Tomkins explained his personal connection to the area on the Conservacion Patagonica website.
I first visited Perito Moreno National Park in 1992, to scout the south face of Cerro San Lorenzo. My plan was to return later to make a first attempt at this wall, the largest and possibly most challenging of all in the Patagonian Andes. We entered the park from the south and began making our way north toward the peak, crossing the Lácteo River Valley, which lies outside the park boundaries. To our surprise, we found that the most spectacular area of the zone, for some reason, had been excluded from the National Park. My climbing partners and I had a clear feeling that this property must be purchased and integrated into the National Park. A year and a half later, I had the opportunity to buy Estancia El Rincón, which I did with the express intention of donating it someday into the national parks system.
Working with their foundations, including Conservacion Patagonica, the Tomkins have protected more than 2 million acres of property—more than any other private individuals in history. Their approach is simple: They buy huge tracts of land, rehabilitate the area, and then give it back to the public through the national parks. Although locals in Argentina and Chile were initially suspicious of the Tomkins’ motives, worries have subsided as projects have been completed and land given back to the parks system.
According to Conservacion Patagonica, the latest contribution represents “a key milestone in our plan to contribute all our conservation properties into the national parks system of their respective countries.”