Most Inspirational Moment
A 5 minute silence on a bluff overlooking Lago Nordenskjöld to absorb fully our surroundings, ended by the crash of an avalanche on the other side of the valley ("silence" has to be understood in the Patagonian context: silent except for the never-ending wind).
Thoughts on Group Leader
Xavier was excellent, in the best tradition of outstanding Exodus guides. He is a very experienced outdoor guide, has a great sense of fun and is happy to share his encyclopedic knowledge of the social and political history, ecology and geology of Argentina and Patagonia in long trail conversations. As his main relaxation seems to be outdoor adventuring in other parts of Argentina, he is impeccably qualified to lead this trip.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Hope but don't expect good weather. I knew that Patagonian weather could be unpredictable and it was. On one day we had sun, hail, rain and snow and, despite this being late summer, the weather according to the guides was more like late autumn; it was especially cold on the first two days of the W Trek. If you use contact lenses, consider beforehand how you would put them in at 6 am in the half light (or total darkness) of a refuge dormitory with no mirror and nowhere to prop a phone. Don't take a poncho (aka sail) and don't bother with gaiters (the paths are all stony). The explanation in the trip notes of what rucksacks and bags to bring is confusing, but essentially you need a main suitcase (for most of your stuff), a rucksack with about 30 litres capacity or more for the W Trek and, optionally, a smaller day rucksack for the day trips (Perito Moreno and El Chalten). When you are deciding what size of rucksack to bring for the W Trek, bear in mind you will need to leave room for the generous gift of a sleeping bag liner, 1 litre water bottle and travel towel.
The current kit list in the trip notes needs a review: the "optional" items are all essential (except gaiters), especially the headtorch as several of the refuges turn their electricity off at night (a problem if you need to use the loo).