The approach to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is on the gravel roads that link one side of Patagonia to the other. Vehicles throw up a cloud of dust that leave a wake as if travelling through water. We spotted rheas (Patagonian ostriches), guanacos, (wild llamas) and a mighty condor drifting effortlessly across the wide open skies above the horizon. The great granite massif that forms the “Torres” is the centre piece to one of nature’s most stunning landscapes. Three “towers” and several aptly named “horns” soar over 2500m high above the surrounding hills, this place is all about scale, and here we’re talking big scale that’s served in quantity!
Our plan was to trek the “W” route following the 3 valleys that lead, from left to right, to the Torres base camp, the “British” base camp and Grey Glacier. We planned a route that would take 6 days with a mixture of laden and unladen walking. The group split into 3 person tent teams and procured supplies according to the food budget and the amount of weight they were prepared to carry. The walk to the Torres Base Camp was our warm-up walk which, 6 hours later, had done the warm-up and much more. After breakfast on the following morning we re-grouped and headed of to Campamiento Italiano at the head of Valle Frances.
We walked up Valley Frances to Campamiento Britanica from where had stunning views around the amphi-theatre-like bowl in the centre of the massif. Walking laden can be a challenge and our walk to Campamiento “Pehoe” proved the resolve of the group. All made it with time and weight to space.
Our walk to Glacier Grey was into the teeth a mighty gale. The weather until now had been hot, sunny and dry; today we got cool, cloudy and only slightly damp – 4 seasons in one day is the catch-phrase around here! Our travails were rewarded with fantastic views of the glacier with its blue tinges and imposing scale. Huge chunks the size of office blocks peeled of the face of the glacier creating a huge wave and a round of applause from the spectators. We returned to the camp with the ind on our backs and arrived in good time to prepare the evening meal. During the final day’s walk-out, I suspect that more than just one of us was sad to be leaving the park as we walked. A great 6 days for all!