December 16th, 2009 – by: melsadventure
As i had desperatley wanted to go to Chile and trek the W, which ended up being way too expensive, Maggie and I compromised. We decided to go across to Chile from Argentina and do a 2 day hike and camp overnight so i could see the Torres at sunrise. So we were heading to Chile once again. We paid 450 pesos for a day trip to the park which would take us from El Calafate to Torres Del Paine national park. The bus picked us up at 4:30am and we finally made the border at 11am. Crossing the Chilean border for the last time felt good ... no more silly Chilean pesos, no more having your bag scanned for fruit or plants and the last time we´d have to wait for hours while they figured out how to do their job.
We went from a big bus to a little bus and met our "rugged" (downright dirty) guide for the day.
We took the tour into the park and stopped off at a couple of viewpoints over some of the lakes in the park. The difference between Chilean patagonia and the Argentine one was pretty obvious straughtaway. In Chile you are in amongst the mountains and feel surrounded by the sheer vastness of the place. In Argentina it´s incredibly beautiful too but you always feel as if you´re looking in and can´t get close enough. Although i´m sure Tierra del Fuego is different but that was simply too far to go. So, back to the Chilean day trip. It was frankly really disappointing as a day trip but a good means to an end in terms of getting a ride over the border. We left the day trip at 3:30pm and hiked our way two hours up hill to a beautiful lodge called Chileano on the right side of the "W" hike.
In our tent at 8pm ready for our 2am start. It was FREEZING!
It´s set in amongst the forest by a river and was just beautiful. After paying our 12,000 pesos for a tent space and sleeping bag (the equivalent of 16 GBP) we settled down for the night inside the wooden lodge to wait for dinner. We quickly realised we hadn´t bought enough money so we didn´t have any money for breakfast ... dinner had better be good! Fortunately it was and we went out to our tent in broad daylight at 8pm to get a few hours sleep before we started the hike at 2am.
Needless to say when the alarm went off neither Maggie or I were particulalry chirpy. We layered up against the cold and joined forces with a Polish couple luckily as they had proper torches and we had really faint ones, god knows how we would have done it! We hiked through for 3 hours in pitch black, keeping up morale with hopes of a hot drink when we got back.
The first rays of light came through around 4am so the final hour and half scrabble up the mountain side was done in daylight. The "scrabble" was just that, clambering over rocks, gravel, sand and hawling yourself up impossible cliff faces all made for a rather challenging morning. It didn´t help having an Israeli girl screaming at the top of her lungs for her friends. Never have i been so smug as when i bellowed back "sheket bavakasha (hey!)". We finally made the summit at 5am just in time for the sun rise. The Torres are magnificent and despite having wispy clouds covering them, we had a great view. The sun turns the rock faces orange and red in the morning and it´s an amazing sight and believe it or not worth getting up at 2am for.
The reason for the climb, the beautiful Torres at sunrise. It was snowing!
Some of the folks camping closer took sleeping bags up and i wish i would have had one as it was freezing cold up there, hence the rather attractive attire!
The climb back was mainly downhill (thank god!) and we were able to appreciate the spectacular scenary we´d missed by climbing up in the dark. Really wild natural place and lots of rivers running down the hills. We finally made it back to our campsite at 7am in time for everyone else to wake up for breakfast, we felt like heroes having hiked already! After a few hours sleep we headed back to the meeting point to wait the three hours for our bus back to our beloved Argentina. So glad i did it but i have to come back one day and do the full W as i´m sure it´s spectacular. One more for the list then!