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Ben and Ange - On the Road

Torres del Paine!!

CHILE | Thursday, 13 March 2008 | Views [719] | Comments [1]

Just another nice photo

Just another nice photo

We´re back!! Back from a 9 day hike around the Torres del Paine national park (had to do something about those handles). The Torres del Paine is a series of mountains formed by granite pushing it´s way through the earths crust, that´s what the brochure said anyway. So it makes for some spectacular mountain spires and rugged glacier passes. In all we treked about 130k´s!!! I Know!! and all with carrying everthing on our backs. In the park you have a series of treks that you can do with the ¨W¨ being the most popular, then there is the circuit which is the ¨W¨ plus the backside of the mountains and then you have the ¨Q¨ which is the circuit plus a 20k trek into the mountains themselves. Which of course is what we did!

Day 1 was reasonably flat as the mountains slowly came towards us, but with our packs at their heaviest and our conditioning being less than perfect it was still pretty tough. Having a river along side us for the trip with little icebergs floating down it that have calved off the glacier makes it pretty worthwhile though. Camping was pretty luxurious the first night, with hot showers available. Trust me by the end of the trip we were dreaming about them. Some of the campsites have Refugios. So places you can sleep and eat in and may even have a small store to restock, but most are just a toilet and some flat(ish) ground.

Day 2 was a reasonably small trek to our next camping ground but the hills had certainly started. This trek took us around Paine Grande the biggest of the mountains and into Valley Frances to our camping ground called Italiano (listing the names in case you want to google it and see where we trekked). Dropped our stuff there and walked another couple of hours up the valley to take in the view which of course is spectacular. The whole park is. Parked on our buts for a while and watched pieces of the glacier on top of the mountain break off and form small avalanches. The sound raises the hairs on the back of your neck.

Day 3 was our longest and hardest day by far. It was about 18k´s in total but for about 3 hours is was all uphill. The other 5 hours was all up and down ravines and accross ridges, but it took us out of one valley and into another to Camp Torres. The camp is about an hours hard trek from the base of the Torres themselves. Granite spires that tower above you with shear sides, very imposing.

Day 4 was an early start with the prospect of getting to the Spires before sunrise. So armed with our mats and sleeping bags as well as our little stove for cups of tea we staggered on up. One hour up the scree of the mountain side in early morning stumbling up the rocks is not my cup of tea, but we did make it!! Although we were cursing all the way up it was worth it to see them glow red for just a second until cloud then spoiled the view. Not all was lost though as we then spent the next hour laughing at people stumble down the slippery slope. The scree is hard enough to get up but also just as hard to keep your feet on the way down. So after our entertainment the sun came back out and we had a great view. (photos will be coming). We spent the rest of the day sleeping and taking a sponge bath ( WE SMELLED!!) and trying to get a bit of the stink out of our clothes with a bit of a wash.

Day 5 we hiked back out of the valley and began our long circuit around the whole mountain system. Another long day but by now we were becoming ¨Supertrekkers¨ and we now felt that we didn´t need a proper camping site. It was the fact that we had trekked for most of the day only to find that the campground was less than ideal, so on we went a little bit further to a great spot next to a river and camped there with just a little fire ( UM MAH!!)

Day 6 was up early again to hide our little indiscretion and make our way to Camp Dickson. Once again a faily easy trek cause we were ¨Supertrekkers¨ and it was mostly flat. The camp site was situated on a fresh lake fed by a glacier and mountains on one side and looked very picturesque. And so thought the mozzies!!! They were thick in the afternoon, not much better at night and positively scarey in the morning.

Day 7 was pack up very quick before we were drained of all blood and make our way up the mountains again to where we can cross the pass. It was probably our easiest day of the lot as it was through lovely forrest areas and only gradually uphill. Breakfast was had on the road. Stopped by a stream for our regular bowl of hot porridge. Finally stopping at Los Perros, right next to a glacier and up in the mountains. BLOODY COLD!! Thankfully in had a little common area (nothing more than tarpaulin gazebo around an old tree but it did have a FIRE!! Bless! But eventually we did have to leave and go back to our little green tent which was very cold and a bit of a restless night was had. Someone had the smart idea of giving my warm sleeping bag to Ange in exchange for hers. Chivalry is overrated :)

Day 8 was ¨The Pass¨ Up and over the mountains. 3 hours of walking straight up. In all it was about 2000 meters high, well above the tree line and very windy. But once over the hill, pausing for a few photos and congrats came into view Glacier Grey. A monster of a thing that stretched as far as the eye can see and with all the cracks and ridges that you would expect to see. Very pretty. Then down the pass it was stopping at Camp Paso for the night

Day 9 was only meant to be to Camp Grey but as i said, by now we were ¨Supertrekkers¨ and we got to Grey with so much time on our hands that we said stuff it (actually the odour from us and our clothes pretty much decided it) and we pushed on to the finish line to enjoy some lovely Pisco sours.

All in all it was well worth it and only a couple of tantys was had.  It was only ONE tanty - and that was merely an expression of frustration at my calves for refusing to co-operate on a particularly nasty incline!!

Photos will hopefully be up soon, very slow connection here

Till next blog.




I have just read your blog as I am heading back to Patagonia (I did the W there a few years back) for more trekking in a couple of months and was pretty disappointed to read that you had been 'pirate camping' and lighting fires in the park. And your comment of 'UM MAH' was juvenile. I am not a hardcore trekker, but everyone should respect certain rules when trekking, particularly when in areas as pristine as the Torres del Paine. If everyone behaved in the same inconsiderate manner as you, with random campsites and lighting fires, these parks would not be the beautiful and (relatively) untouched areas that they are. I hope you have since gained some trekking etiquette and don't degrade other beautiful areas you visit in future. Luckily not everyone is as arrogant and inconsiderate as yourselves.

  Another trekker Nov 17, 2009 4:37 PM

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