An Entertaining 6 Day Hike
15.02.2007 - 20.02.2007 12 °C
After our helpful talk, on how to get prepared for our 6 day hike on the W circuit of the Torres Del Paine, the four of us were ready to go! Alan, myself, Kieran (a fellow irish traveller) and Maria (a fellow german traveller) had all of our camping gear and enough food to feed the 5 thousand!
We´d popped into Erratic Rock (one) the sister hostel of ours for the free information talk given by Bill (The Owner) on the W and Circuito route (which was free... we even got a free coffee) and Maria Hired a tent and we hired some mats to sleep on!
It was a nice and early start at 7.15am with a bus pick up to the park! It took 3 hours to reach the park and another 30 minutes to reach our drop of point! So it was 3.5 hours of snooze time for us!
We had decided that taking the catamaran was completely wussy (and extra expense!) so decided to save the 5 pounds or so and walk the first easy(ish) 17 kms to our first camp!
The walk was pleasant which was nice as we had full backpacks.... it was good practice anyway!!
The sun was shining as we approached the first camp ´Lago Pehoe´. The charge was 3500 chilean pesos (It was easy to convert Chilean Pesos to sterling as you just dropped a zero and the price was in pence.... so 3500 chilean pesos is about 3 pounds and fifty pence.... easy or what!) each but had nice hot showers and a quincho (a hut with free gas and plenty of tables). The camp was very busy but we managed to squeeze in and have a ´cook up´(as Kieran called it), have a hot shower and then hit the sack!
The camp was pretty open so it was a windy start but we rose nice and early and rushed to the quincho for brekkie! Alan made porridge... yum yum!
We left our gear at the camp and set off on the sendero (walking track) to Grey Glacier.
It was mainly uphill and in some places quite hard work, especially with the powerful patagonian winds which sounded like jumbo jets coming towards you as they blew through the trees!
Halfway up to the glacier we heard a big rumble and witnessed an ice avalanche..... quite an impressive one too!
We made it to the glacier mirador, it was quite an impressive glacier, although I personally preferred the perito mereno glacier near El Calafate, but nice all the same and worth the trek up to see it.
We walked a few metres back from the mirador and in the shelter of the forest we stopped for lunch, having walked off out morning porridge, and had some much needed sandwiches!
The walk back down was easier but at the same time (which was thought was impossible) we were both hindered and helped by the amazingly strong winds! It was just not possible to stop so we made the 3.5 hour walk in 2.5 hours! (Hardcore !!!)
Back at camp Lago Pehoe we had a very quick rest, packed the tents away, grabbed our backpacks and continued walking onto camp Italiano!
It would have been an easy walk except for the blooming wind.... the walk was done in silence as we were all shattered and we did not dare stop until we reached the camp incase we lost the will to carry on!!!
We arrived about 2 hours later yeahhhh!!!
It was a nice sheltered camp and even better it was free with free runnning water very nearby (aka the glacial river which was gorgeous water although freezing cold! Makes you wonder why people pay so much for the stuff when we were guzzling it down for nowt!!!)
Tonights ´cook up´was bangers and mash with a much deserved rosé wine that we (sorry... alan!) had bought in puerto natales (and carried all the way so far) whilst Kieron and Alan were fastly comsuming their 2 litres of Local Rum.... in either cofee... tea... hot water with lemon juice... porridge... etc. etc...
We sat around talking into the night before crawling into our tents (in mine and Alans tent it literally is crawling as its a small 2 man tent... very cosy and fun when you want to get changed ha ha)!
We left our backpacks at the camp again and walked up Valley Francés to Camp Britanico where we had a short breather before heading further up to the mirador. After a short but steep climb we came to a rock that had ´mirador´written on it but we were convinced that it was not the spot and ventured on.
The next leg was an even steeper climb before bringing us out onto a flat section.... the views were great but the path still carried on so the guys decided to carry on.
Maria and myself waited while we caught our breath. It was snowing a little which produced a rainbow over the mountains... very pretty!
The guys didn´t make it to the top, god knows where the path went, so we descended back to camp britanico to have lunch!
After lunch we headed back to camp italiano! On the way back we spotted 2 woodpeckers happily .... well.... pecking wood!
Back at Camp Italiano we packed the tents and grabbed our gear before walking to our next chosen destination which was camping los cuernos.
The 5.5km, 2 hours, to los cuernos was very pleasant next to the lake side most of the way. Los cuernos was busy again but we managed to get a nice sheltered site each.... Alan and myself in our two man tent, Maria in her one man tent and Kieran in his bivvibag (like a swag)!
We splashed out and purchased a litre of vino tinto to drink with our dinner of pasta and hit the sack!
Had a nice hot shower before having the much needed porridge (with fruit and nuts in this time... posh or what?) and packing our tents away.
We had a fairly easy 6 hour walk to do, but we did have our full backpacks on (although they were getting lighter(ish) as we ate our way through our rations!).
The first leg, a supposed 4 hour walk, took us 3 hours with plenty of stops on the way! We decided to stop after the 3 hours for lunch. After a cuppa soup we all (except Alan) had a siesta in the warm sun.... this was a luxury as the sun was shining and the wind wasn´t strong enough to whip a walnut!
After our long lunch break we decided to carry on to camp chileno.
It was a steep but steady climb but 1 hour into the walk we saw the camp, there was light at the end of the tunnel! Apart from the ever determined wind the sun was shining and as soon as we hit base we grabbed a cerveza each!
We were nice and early so grabbed a decent camp site...... it was very open to the elements again so we found a sheltered spot around the corner of the refugio to cook!
After eating we bought another litre of vino tinto and grabbed a seat inside the roasting refugio where we chatted until the wine ran out!!
I woke up pretty grumpy as it was a pretty cold night (was down to about 1 or 2 degrees C... or so it said on Kieron´s thermometer!) but after a warm shower and lots of porridge I was a LITTLE better.
We packed up the tents and moved onto Camp Torres for our final night!
The walk was steepish but only lasted an hour so to hardened hikers like ourselves it was a ´piece of piss´. We arrived at camp and set up the tents, had a coffee and headed for the mirador Torres Del Paine... the whole reason for doing the 6 day trip!
Now this was extremely steep and hard going, after 45 minutes we rounded the peak and boy was it worth it! We stayed there for a while admiring the incredible view of the massives (3 granite pylons forging into the sky).
It was such a cool view of the Torres!
Climbing down was great fun.... not... but it was a lot less tiring!!
After another coffee at camp the guys decided to walk to a camp a little further (Japonesa) while Maria and myself decided to conserve our energy.
The guys arrived back and we all had dinner and some vino tinto (that we had purchased at the refugio chileno... a little forward thinking) while the guys managed to finish the last drops of the two bottles of rum that they had brought with them.
I personally don´t like the stuff but must admit a hot toddy (hot water, sugar, lemon juice and rum) was quite nice on a cold evening before bedtime!
It was an even earlier start at 5.30 am to head up the mirador for sunrise!
I must say it was great fun climbing up the mirador in the dark with my trusty maglite. It was quite funny to see the numerous headlamps bobbing up the side of the mountain!
At the top we all had a cuppa soup, which felt quite bizarre at 6.30am but it warmed us all up!
Unfortunately we didn´t get a good sunrise but the Torres were still amazing and worth a second peek.
So it was back down to camp for a coffee and muesli bar before packing away for the very FINAL time.
We had a 3.5 hour walk infront of us and 4.5 hours to do it in so we could take our time and amble on with our relatively light backpacks!
On the way past chileno we met a german guy who had hurt his knee... it was pretty swollen and he was struggling a little so the guys took his backpack all the way to the shuttle bus pick up point. We also put a bandage on his knee to support it!
We arrived at the shuttle bus pick up point 1.5 hours early so it was decided to walk the 7kms to the coach stop along the road in the mid day sun (have we learned nothing !!!)
I had my reservations but went along with the idea... we had time!
Well we made the coach on time and saved a whole pound sterling with the walk as we didn´t have to take the 1000 chilean peso minibus.
Back on the bus, We spotted the german guy with the swollen knee alive and complete with backpack so our good deed seemed to have worked well!
As soon as the coach started moving we all fell asleep.... surprise surprise!
After 4 hours on the coach we made it safely back into Puerto Natales, shattered but safe and sound!
We walked back to Erratic Rock, had a shower, wenbt out for some food and then crashed out for the rest of the night... we had an early start in the morning to get the bus from Natales back to El Calafate as we´d arranged something quite posh for our trip down to Ushuaia....