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Torre Del Paine

CHILE | Thursday, 28 February 2008 | Views [3028] | Comments [4]

Patti: Our first day in Puerto Natales (back in Chile) was used for planning our time in the Torres Del Paine National Park. It was perfect weather for planning; rainy, windy, and cold. There are two popular hiking routes through the park, one of which takes 8-10 days (the Curcuit) to complete and the other 4-6 days (The “W”) to do. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we didn’t have enough time to do either so we made an alternative plan with a local travel guide which included a combination of a day hike, bus transport, a catamaran, backpacking, and glacier hiking/ climbing. Our tour into the park began on Feb. 22 which started with a two hour bus ride to the park from Puerto Natales and it was a clear, warm day. We were dropped off at a camping area which was also at the trail head of a popular hike to the Torres Del Paine overlook. We set up camp and were able to do the hike with only a day pack. This was a good thing because with the return trip, we covered 20 km in 6.5 hours with an elevation gain of 850 meters . The last hour of the hike was an uphill scramble over boulders and even though it was hard work, it was lots of fun (this was 400 meters of elevation gain in about 2 km). Our view of the Torres the Paine (4 granite mountain peaks) was fairly clear with only a few clouds obscuring the tops of 2 of the peaks. Back at camp, it was still warm so we had a comfortable evening sitting around, watching the sunset reflect on the clouds over the mountains, and listening and watching the horses who wandered through the area.


The next day, we woke up early with hopes of seeing the sunrise reflect on the Torres Del Paine peaks to make up for our missed opportunity at Fitz Roy, and we were not disappointed. We could actually see a sheet of red light slowly creep down the faces of the mountain walls. It was brilliant. Another bus ride connected us to a 30 minutes catamaran ride across Lake Pehoe to get to another trailhead. We took our packs and gear to be two nights in the backcountry at Camping Grey. This was an 11 km hike that took about 3.5 hours. The trailhead and campground were at about the same elevation but we had a 150 meters ascend, of course followed by a 150 meter descend. Given the seclusion of the camping area, it was super full. Tents were set up directly beside each other; not very comfortable for us Canadians who are accustomed to a lot of personal space. The hike itself was near the shore of Grey Lake and in several of the coves, there were collections of huge icebergs, appropriately called the “iceberg cemetery”.


Day 3 was the main feature of our time in the park. We had arranged to go glacier hiking and climbing with an adventure trip operator and the guides stay right at Camping Grey in a beautiful cabin. Glacier Grey flows directly into Grey Lake but we had to take a zodiac to get to the starting point. These are my highlights;

·         Two of us; two guides

·         Walking on ice with traction provided by crampons

·         Light blue ice; medium blue ice; dark blue ice; the deepest blue ice you can imagine

·         More glacier calving

·         River flowing over the glacier

·         Water flowing over the ice, below the ice, and through the ice

·         Unexpected warm winds blowing down the valley over the glacier

·         Lakes and crevasses with no visible bottoms

·         Drinking glacier water

·         Moulins (you’ll have to look this up if you are interested in knowing)

·         4 different ice climbing routes

·         Making it to the top and kissing the caribiner

·         The ice axe grabbing the ice and crampons digging in to the ice wall

·         Burning muscles in arms and legs

·         The sounds

·         THE BLUES!!!!!!


Day 4 seemed anticlimactic as it simply involved our hike back to the trailhead and transport back to Puerto Natales. It was an amazing warm day and the skies were clear with enough puffy white clouds to give the sky some texture and contrast above the mountain peaks. We returned to the same hostel we stayed in before we spent time in the park. Teresa, our hostess, was the grandmotherly type and she was very kind. She spoke no English and without our Spanish phase book we don’t really speak Spanish, but we got along with communicating with her very well.


Finally, we are to yesterday! We travelled 3 hours by bus to another Chile city, Punta Arenas. We got here early enough to catch the 4:00 tour to go to Isla Magdellan to go to the penguin colony. We spent 2 hours on the ferry, one hour on the island with the penguins, and 2 hours back on the ferry to return. These penguins are actually the same type (Jackass) as the ones we saw when we were in Cape Town, South Africa. This colony was HUGE. It is estimated that there are over 150000 penguins here. We had good timing with the season as the penguins begin their migration north sometime in March so we still saw the land area covered with them. There are roped off paths that tourists can walk but the penguins cross them so you can really be quite close so it was very cool. (For Glen, there was no penguin bowling allowed!).


So today is catch-up day. Emails, journals, laundry, planning the last half of our trip. We are on day 36 of 68 days. Tomorrow we fly back to Santiago and begin making our way to northern Chile and then finally into Peru. We’ve done lots of hiking and that has been very satisfying to me and still have the trek to Machu Pichu to look forward to.

Tags: The Great Outdoors



Hi girls, I am sitting at my desk, eating my lunch and dreaming on going on these hikes soon...
I think Machu Pichu will be my next trip so I am looking forward to read your comments and get some tips.
It's great to read your blog.
Keep enjoying yourselves and take care
Hasta luego

  Danielle Feb 29, 2008 5:22 AM


Well its finaly Me anain.We were so busy last week I could'nt find time to check on you two.The Scott Tournament of Hearts keptn us busy.You have probly heard that Jennifer Jones won.Realy good job as we thought she might be out after 4 losses. Speaking of winter things your travels sound like your in winter just like here.It sounds like the stuff you are seeing is great.With all the hiking we'll never walk with you at your speed.Just be carfuk and dont slip on any of the glaciers.I wish I could see sdome of that stuff.We are going to Regina of Mar 6 to see Carly's play.Max did well here and won first in his class.Sedona is well and found her way into our bed in the day wnder the comforter.Marie has'nt chasted her out yet so she feels at home.I weighted her at 10lbs by me so that's good eh? Ill read some more of your blogg before I go but want to send this before time runs out.
Love Dad,Bert,Mom,Marie

  Bert Phillips Feb 29, 2008 6:22 AM


Sounds like you guys are working really hard but the payoff at Glacier Grey certainly sounds like it was worth it! I didn't think there would be quite so much cold weather there, so hope you will get to spend some time in some lower elevations befre you head home. We're getting another 10cm in TO today so it feels good to see a picture on the ice! Off to get some indian food now - hope you are enjoying the local cuisine and beverages!

  Chris Mar 1, 2008 10:23 AM


Unbelievable pictures of the glaciers!  And the penguins were great, too!  We got home from California on Friday and had a marvelous time in Disneyland - Lana couldn't get enough of rollercoasters and Disney characters.  It was not busy and sometimes we would get off a ride and get right back into line and enjoy it again within minutes!  Spent 5 days straight going back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure; had warm but not hot weather so it was all wonderful.  We are going to see Carly's performance this weekend and are also soing to enjoy the mineral springs of Moose Jaw beforehand - who would've thought that MJ would be one one of our vacation destinations this year?!  Glad to hear all continues to go well with both of you.  Keep enjoying and stay safe.Love Dodi

  dodi Mar 4, 2008 10:30 AM

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