A Travellerspoint blog

The W trek at Torres del Paine

The night before we started the trek I woke to every weather change, I heard roaring wind, pouring rain and calm skies. And I remembered we have a three season tent - thank you Rob Gorman! I hope it works!

Great breakfast at hostal yemel, but unfortunately they don't have a room on the 15th when we should get back to town. We catch the bus and are nervous but excited. Nice views from the bus, just very cloudy and a bit ominous.
Get to the admin gate and pay entrance fee and watch video. Had some confusion with which bus to get on but we get on one and we're off to the catamaran. We saw guacos on both buses and some cool birds.
Boat ride is ok, chat with some nice people, 2 gals from the UK Kath and Imo. At Grande Paine many of us rush off ditch our bags and head off to glacier gray. Great views, we see some icebergs and the wind gusts are crazy, 80km or more. We go past the camping area a bit and have amazing views of the glacier.
We have some tea and a break at the camping lodge and head back to Paine Grande. Brian is going a bit slow and I'm panicking a little and constantly pushing him. The gusts are getting big and it rains on and off.
We get back to camp and it is very windy, 80km gusts. We set up the tent and then go make dinner - quinoa, onions and tomatoes, works out ok, chat with Kath & Imo. We boil more water for making hot water bottles and go to bed.
We barely sleep bc of the wind and rain.

DAY 2
We get up around 7and Brian makes instant noodles for breakfast and I pack up. Hot breakfast is great. We leave around 9 and it's drizzling heavily but Brian doesnt want to walk too fast and I was getting cold. Arguments ensued. Eventually I give him my walking stick and with 2 he's faster due to sore knees and hip flexor. The hike is OK with some great views, by the rain makes it a bit long. We finally get to campamento Italiano and I'm freezing. We drop our bags, I put on rain pants and do some jumping jacks and then we head off to the mirador to see the Frances valley glaciers. We get lucky and the clouds start to clear as we go. At the mirador the glacier is spectacular and the mountains opposite are stunning. We have our nut mix and enjoy the view. On the way down we see two avalanches, one really big.
At camp Italiano we get our bags and carry on to camping Frances. We set up our tent on a platform like everyone else, it's nice in that you're off the wet ground, but we found out later that it's very cold to sleep bc the air below is constantly cooling the underside of the tent.
After we set up the tent I go for a hot shower - very nice washrooms with wonderfully hot water!! Brian goes well and I make tea. Brian comes back with a 1L box of wine and we set up our chairs and have a drink.
We make our way down the hill and make pasta dinner and chat with fellow hikes, including Kath and Imo and a couple of gals from Scotland. Around 8 we go to the lodge and it's super warm! We chat until 9:45/10 and then head to bed.

DAY 3
Up at 6:30, I go down the hill to the lovely washrooms and then run up the hill to warm up. I start packing and Brian starts cooking. The noodles and broth are delicious!
We leave around 7:45? For our long day, 10 hr to get to the next camp. Once again Brian is slow and wants to take lots of breaks and arguments ensued. I eventually realize Brian is really slow first thing whereas I'm faster first thing, just took 3 data to figure this out.
The hike is great as the rain holds off, and there clouds clear and the views become more and more awesome. We have a lovely break in the sun at the top of a hill.
The hills are big but the vistas are gorgeous as we continue nature our way to camp Torres. By 2? We make it to Refugio Chileno. The sun is great but the wind is picking up and we have a coffee and snack inside. Then it starts snowing, it didn't stick, but still. By 3:30 the snow had slowed and we make our way to camp about 1-1.5 hours later. The snow is still falling and the tree tops are lovely but we know we will be testing Rob's tent! We get to camp and it's very simple, plots for tents and a simple hut for cooking. We set up as gusts blow in more snow. We make the last of the quinoa, tomatoes and onions and hot water bottles and head to bed early to get up at 4:35 to hike up for Torres at sun rise!
I can't thank Mark enough for his tips and ultra light hiking guide (came in handy for Brian who forgot his gloves and I remembered the book saying that socks make great mittens!) And we are so very very grateful to Rob for the tent!

DAY 4
4:35 we're up and cold but keen. We discovered that a great way to sleep when it's snowing and windy is to become a turtle in your sleeping bag - scrunch down and fold the hood over you. We were mostly cozy.
The snow continued all night, luckily the camp site was in a small forested area and the tent just had a bit of snow on it. Rob, your tent did very well for only being a 3 season tent!
We pack Brian's small sleeping bag into my pack with the chairs and off we go! We climb just before dawn to try to see the Torres at sunrise. The hike was strenuous as it was up hill all the way, but beautiful and pristine with ambient light reflecting from the fresh snow fall. It was a Christmas winter wonderland... But in November which is like May for us in the northern hemisphere... There are a few birds chirping and brooks running, and the sound of crunching marching footsteps.
We make it to the Torres! And it's completely socked in with clouds of course. We get out our chairs anyway and sit for a bit. The clouds clear enough for us to see across the lake but not completely.
But there was a scene to enjoy - a couple got engaged! Great place to propose!
Shortly after I leave because I'm beginning to shiver.
Back at camp I start packing up and Brian comes 15 minutes later. He makes ramen, they are really delicious on a cold morning. After breakfast we start our hike downhill. We pause at Chileno again and then head downhill. As we walked away from the Torres it was like walking out of winter and into spring.
At the bottom, we and many others that finished the W that day met up at the lodge for drinks and a snack before catching the bus back to Puerto Natales.
Back in town, Brian went to Erratic Rock to drop off our rental gear and I went back to hostal Yemel to get our other bag. Then to find a place to stay for the night!
This was quickly resolved, we found a place 3 small blocks away and the inn keeper was super friendly. We knocked and said we had a reservation that we made 5 minutes ago. We ended up cancelling via the booking company so that she wouldn't have to pay the booking company ;-)

We freshen up, go find the lovely Creperie place again for a week deserved latte and crêpes, then to Erratic Rock for drinks with everyone we had just met!

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Posted by hillibilli 01:45 Comments (0)

Puerto Natales

We did not have a great sleep at the hostel for the oddest reason - we were WAY TOO HOT! Nearly freezing outside and hear cranked. They, and many other places received complaints that it was too cold at night, so they crank the heat up and at our place at least it was forced air and we couldn't open the window. It felt like it was 28C or warmer in the room, we slept on top of the sheets and we're just uncomfortable. Breakfast was nice, we had yogurt, toast, I made a ham and cheese toasty, tea, juice (way too sweet). We had our bus tickets and got on the bus to Puerto Natales at 10. We dozed off just after getting out of town for about 2 hours out of the 3. We noticed that it was very windy, lots of sheep and rolling hills.
The town of Puerto Natales looks small but it's quite big when you start wandering around and take a couple of wrong turns.
We went to Erratic Rock, an outdoor store, hostel and bar for their 3pm talk on the Torres del Paine park and hikes - super helpful, great staff. After we rented a sleeping bag for me and tent stakes and a set of poles. Then we went food shopping and we hope we've got enough.
Went back to the hostel and I did some repacking while Brian had a nap. Then we found out that the WiFi wasn't working. We went for a walk and took a couple of wrong turns, Brian blames it on being so far south and his direction sense is off. We enjoyed the walk, met a couple of very nice dogs and found this great coffee shop/creperie, where we had a very yummy salad and coffees... At 9pm woops! It was so light out, we didn't realize it was so late. Back at Erratic Rock for a large beer and tacos and then bed and then we'll be truly off the grid for a few days!

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Posted by hillibilli 16:45 Comments (0)

Chile Bound

8 °C

Off to a not so great start. Turns out there were 2 flights to Seattle, we were flying most of the way with Delta but thought we had a code share with Alaska to Seattle so we looked at the board and sat at the gate. I noticed that our flight number didn't match the screen at the gate. Then I heard a final boarding call for our flight at gate 1 upstairs. Turns out we were flying with Delta to Seattle. I run upstairs as the last few people are going through, we get to the door and there are no tags for larger carry-on so I run back to the gate, even though I want supposed to but no one could help at the plane. Fewf!!
Flights were fine. Atlanta airport is huge and despite Brian's grumbling and wanting to walk to a park (which I don't think it's actually possible despite what Google maps shows) we walked from terminal A to terminal F. In the end Brian was OK with this bc he had WiFi the whole way and caught lots of Pokémon. The flight from Atlanta to Santiago was pleasant, we took gravol (antinausea/sleep aid) just before dinner and then had two generous pours of red wine with dinner and then we were out for the count! We woke up about 30 minutes before landing which was perfect, hopefully we can make ourselves do that on the way back too.
We rushed off the plane and got through a long line in immigration and got a bit of direction help through customs and departures and jogged through departure and got to our gate with a bit of time to spare. The last flight (Santiago - 30 min layover in Puerto Montt - Punta Arenas) felt really long and our butts got tired of sitting so long... But we made it! And there was a taxi guy waiting for us - so worth it (actually same cost as taking a shuttle for 2ppl).

Punta Arenas looks and feels like you're at the end of the world or nearly, just google map it. It's cold, about 8C, were walking around in down jackets etc but so is everyone else. It is beautiful though and it feels quite safe. We went wandering around as we do, through residential neighborhoods, found a couple of nice kitties :-), lots of dogs, a few chasing motorbikes. As I write this bit it's just past 9pm and still quite light out! It finally got darkish by 9:30.
We're at this bar (Check Point)and we're there oldest people by 10years. It's an odd bar, it's the old bar for a run down racetrack but there are arcade games, foosball tables and x-box games. But we have discovered 2 new beer varieties! Yagan and Calafate (bit of spruce tip flavor). There's also Patagonian which is an Amber ale.
Next stop, the Clinic by our hostel, too many drinks to choose from, I get a very boosy caipiriña and Brian got another pisco sour. We shared a steak sandwich but misunderstood the bread, we thought we ordered it on flathead, but it was regular toast bread, still very yummy. They are big on adding avocado and mayo here which makes for rich and delicious food, like hotdogs and sandwiches. My poor stomach which is used to lots of fruit and salad is getting bombarded with fries and white bread and soon even drier and more processed food on our 4 day hike. I will truly be craving salad and carrot sticks by the end of it! Although, after spending 30 hours sitting on planes I'm looking forward to hiking for 4 days. We're going to be cold though! It's around 3-5C here in the evening. I think we'll stock up on tea and noodle soup for the hike.
Enjoy the pictures! The first is arriving in Santiago and the second is of Punta Arenas.

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Posted by hillibilli 18:55 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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