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How’s the serenity – Torres del Paine

Sophie and Hayley take on the Big W (with our lovely companion Mai)

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The main reason for our sail south was to stroll the ‘Big W’ in the infamous Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, which attracts 150,000 punters each year. For those unacquainted – the tramp is as described – in a big W shape in and around many natural splendours packed into a relatively small area. A real feast for the eyeballs – the stars of the show included a glacier, rivers, mountains, lakes and of course the piste de la resistance; the Torres del Paine themselves.

After arriving not-so-fresh-off the boat in the afternoon, in prep for the adventure ahead we scoured the town for substandard yet economical camping equipment and substances, which upon adding water become food.

The next morning we jumped on an early bus out to the park with various other Navimag alumni and psyched ourselves up with a two-hour nap onboard.

From the administration we paid up, got stamped and were explained to the ramifications of the use of cookers outside of campsites as well as the burning of loo paper whilst doing your business off-piste. The park has suffered two major fires due to the aforementioned boo-boo’s at the hands of tourists in 2005 and 2011 respectively.

Pre-tramp snack

Setting off

Day One:
We chose to navigate the W from east to west and got dropped off at the Hotel Torres at the base of the park to sweat it out up to our first campsite (Torres), which was a bit of a gut-buster with five hours up. Yes some prior training would have been useful – but nevertheless we had plenty of dulce de leche to burn off which has become the snack of choice lately… Our destination, the Torres campsite sits an hours’ hike below the Torres (towers), which we reached by late afternoon and setup camp. As we planned to make the sunrise hike to the Torres, we were eager to chat to the park ranger about what weather conditions we might expect up there the next day. Upon enquiring we are laughed at and told;
‘I don’t know what it will be like, it’s Patagonia’
‘No, really – what’s it going to be like cos I don’t want to walk all that way at 6am if those towers are covered in cumulous mate’
Stoney-faced we realise he isn’t going to throw us a bone in this apparent meteorologist’s black hole and it seems we will have to wait an see.

Having a wee rest on the way up
En-route to campsite #1

Hayley 'I don't think I'm built for camping' Landy

That night was a rude awakening to the climes experienced up in them there hills – despite wearing all our clothes including jackets we had a freezing night (or 3 under to be exact) and looked forward to the 6am alarm when we can start walking again.

Day Two:
Lucky for us the morning was clear (explaining the overnight frost). We donned our head torches and followed the masses up the hill in the dark – somewhat dodgy as we found ourselves clambering up the mountain off-piste at one point. As the sun popped up we saw the towers catch the light and once we got to the top and saw them in all their splendor they progressively turned more and more orange as minutes crept by. It was a stunning sight and worth the pre-hyperthermia endured the night before.

The Torres themselves

This day was to be a big one. We scrambled back down the hill and packed up camp and got on the trail again – destination Camp Cuernos a short 6 hour stroll away. The entertainment on this leg were some stunning lakes on one side and the mountains on the other on a gentle downhill slope. Delightful! (But quite long). Arriving at camp we decided we had earned a 3 course meal, never having been so excited about cuppa soup and pasta. We also met some Aussies who we plied with Vegemite to their delight. We must also mention the delight of Cuernos’ hot shower – does this equate to ‘glamping’?

Ladies of leisure + Mai who we picked up on the Navimag
Bit of a pensive moment
Just before Cuernos, our destination for day 2

Day 3
Another cracker of a day we set off early ready to walk up the guts of the W, aka the French valley. The first thing you notice is the constant sound of avalanches, which are all talk, no action – no need to switch on the emergency beacon.

Free of our packs for the day, we scooted up the hill taking in some more speccy vistas. The walk down was also faster than anticipated following an overzealous mauling of dried apricots having us gunning for the facilities.

The final stretch was two hours round to our camp for the night – Paine Grande, also where we would depart the park the following afternoon.

heading up Valle de Frances
Not as windy as it looks
Atop the Valle de Frances
The last stretch to destination Day 3: Paine Grande - going through a burnt bit which is reminiscent of Victoria, AU
Looking back to the French Valley
Paine Grande
Day 4
Our final day we decided to catch the 12:30 catamaran out of Paine Grande which meant we would have to forgo the full 7 hour round trip to Glacier Grey at the end of the W. Instead we went half way and spotted some floating icebergs as evidence of the river of ice around the corner.

With the W conquered, mas o menos – we slept all the way back to Puerto Natales excited about a snooze in proper bed and getting some other poor buggar to deal to our toxic laundry!

Posted by ladiesofleisure 08:00 Archived in Chile Tagged mountains trek chile del big w paine torres

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Wow, spectacular photos!! Especially the one with the reflection of the W. It certainly does look worth freezing for.

by Courtney

WOW spectacular. I too like the reflection one, but I am a little concerned what type of holiday we will have when we are all in the states together!!! Do I need to do some serious training or what? I must say also, you girls are looking very fit and healthy and I think you have lost weight? All those spuds etc cant have done you to much harm lol.
Take care, lots of love MUM xxx

by mum

I three, love the reflection one, so did Kyla. she thought it was a castle. what amazing photos, looks like you guys are having a great time, and mum, i think you should start training. hehe

by Jade

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