Day Eighty Six – Nine (28th Nov – 1st Dec) – Torres Del Paine

3 12 2010

Day 1: El Calafate – Chileno Our journey started at 5.30am from El Calafate. We joined a day tour to the park so as to cross the border into Chile smoothly and get a quick guided tour of the park. Torres Del Paine National Park is centred around the stunning, almost vertical granite pillars of ‘Torres Del Paine’. There are also other surrounding mountain peaks such as Paine Grande and Los Cuermos. Most activities (trekking) happen between, around and up these mountains. At this time of year the park is very green and full of colour from the flowering plants and bushes.

At the end of the tour we said our goodbyes to the group, jumped off the minibus and made our way to our campsite. They say it’s possible to experience four seasons in a day in Torres Del Paine. We only really experienced three; Autumn, Winter and Spring. The weather was awful. The highest ever recorded land wind speed was in Patagonia at an incredible 200km an hour. This place gets very very windy, and with a big pack on your back people take some big sprawls. One of the short walks on our tour was cut short because two people went flying.

On our one and a half hour walk to the campsite, the weather progressively got worse. The few patches of blue skies were replaced by grey cloud and a light drizzle started. For some insane reason we thought it would be fun to camp….There is nothing fun about waking up at 3am on the side of the mountain half freezing to death with a mini blizzard going on outside.

Day 2: Chilieno – Mirador Las Torres – Las Torres After an awful night in the tent and a warm breakfast, we started our first days trekking. It snowed all morning….we didn’t sign up for this! The plan was to spend four nights in the national park, and if things were going well to stay an extra night. Things were not going well – it was below zero, the wind was blowing people over, and the cloud level was below 2000m (a bit of a problem if all the mountain peaks are 2000-3000m high). We were walking the ‘W’ route, a popular trail renowned for it’s panoramic views. Our first walk was a few hours ascent to the Mirador Las Torres which offers great views of the Torres Del Paine proper. We walked to the viewpoint but there was no view!

Our luck with the weather didn’t really change but we were in luck with the accommodation. We got a space in the refugio (hostel) and didn’t have to camp!! What a result!

Day 3: Las Torres – Britanico – Paine Grande Today we had planned a mammoth walking day, as due to a few setbacks with accommodation options we had to get to the other side of the ‘W’ walk in just one day. It was close to 40km of walking, up and down rocky mountainous terrain, along the side of a glacier and past a few lakes in more poor weather and stronger winds. We started the day in better spirits after a good nights sleep.

At Britanico, the second major view point in the middle of the ‘W’, we were rewarded with the same low cloud, snow and a very poor panoramic views. We made our way back down and onto Paine Grande where we would be spending the night. Unfortunately the refugio was fully booked so after an almost 40km day we were forced to put up that ruddy tent again!

Fortunately the sleeping bags provided were of superior quality to our previous, as the weather was brutal. From within the tent it felt like a hurricane was blowing over. Hail, ice and sleet were pelting the tent. The only thing keeping the tent where it was, was the weight of the two of us.

Day 4: Paine Grande – ‘Lets get the hell out of here’ In the morning we surveyed the scene, several tents had partially collapsed and it was miserable outside. Our tent was somehow ok – a couple of tent pegs torn up and a guide rope snapped, but we were dry and slept ok.

Needless to say, we had had enough… We sacked off the last 11km to Glacier Grey and took the catamaran to a hotel on the other side of the park for a slap up lunch, before catching the bus to Puerto Natales.

All said and done we enjoyed Torres Del Paine despite being a little unfortunate with the weather… after all, it’s supposed to be summer here!




2 responses

10 12 2010
Andrew Roads

I hope you hoisted the union jack on “Britanico” and had a jolly nice cup of tea! Sounds like you had a bit of bad luck with the weather during your last days in S America, Jo’s got some good pictures of Torres del Paine in the sunshine you can look at 😉
As she says in her comment to your next post, she’s in New York leaving me to fend for myself in London 😦 I’m doing ok really. Looking forward to a bit of time off over Christmas and then going to NY myself! I think I’ve found you on Skype (or I’ve tried to make friends with a different J Stannett!), it would be great to catch up on there if we’re both on at the same time.
Roads x

19 12 2010

Hey Roads,
Sorry for the late response – we have been having problems with our laptop and finding a decent internet connection.

I had a look on Jen’s facebook – NY eh, how exciting… How long will you be there?!? Hope she gets back ok. My sister is having trouble getting out of london, Jen’s bro has had to cancel his trip to meet us in New Zealand for Christmas and other friends are finding flying home difficult…

We are well – finally got better weather, but had to travel quite far to get it. All in all loving South America – sad it’s coming to an end, but really looking forward to Christmas. We might need to look at Jo’s pictures of Torres del Pain(e) as we have no decent ones of our own.

We use my skype – it’s jezjezjez2 – i’ll look for you.

Hope you have a great Christmas. If you are in Oz say hi to everyone.

Take care,


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