Cuernos, the beautiful horns

Torres Del Paine Travel Blog

 › entry 4 of 10 › view all entries
An American trekker with his ex-girlfriend .... the purple haired inside his backpack

The return trek from Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande on the previous day was uneventful as we were just retracing our steps. Moreover, I was exhausted from the heat as it was a very warm day of over 25 deg C with no wind. It was nice to be back in the comfortable Refugio Paine Grande.

We were a bit slow in the morning with the packing of our stuff and went down for breakfast only at 9am. By 9.30am, the staff was already cleaning up the dining area and hurrying us to leave the place. We had no choice but to take our huge oranges and ate them outside.

After having the same tuna sandwich for the past three days, we told the reception while checking in the day before that we were allergic to tuna and if the kitchen could prepare a different sandwich for us for the next morning.

On the start of the trek from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Cuernos
So after having collected our lunchbox, we eagerly took a look to see what they had prepared for us. Disappointment ….. the same sandwich but without tuna, just the palm hearts and cheese. And I do not really like palm hearts as they taste a bit sour! But it was no problem at all to survive on the rest of the stuff in the lunchbox. Since we were proceeding and the refugios where we would be staying for the next few nights were managed by Fantastico Sur, we were hoping that they are more inventive with their sandwiches.

It was a cloudy and warm morning again. The 7.6km trail along Lago Skottsberg towards Compamento Italiano was fairly easy and straightforward. The spectacular view of Los Cuernos del Paine right before us was like a motivating force to keep us moving towards it.

Los Cuernos's unique composition with contrasting colours of sedimentary rock formation at the base and at the top (basalt) and granite in the centre, making it one of the most interesting mountain to admire

Los Cuernos del Paine (The Horns) with height of more than 2,000m is one of the most famous mountain formations in the park.  It is an essential part of the treks within the park and offers one of the most beautiful views that can be seen along the shores of Lago Nordenskjold between Hosteria Las Torrs and Lago Pehoe.

Formed by the earth’s tectonic forces and shaped by the glaciers, the Los Cuernos is unique in its composition with contrasting colours of sedimentary rock formation at the base and at the top (basalt) with granite in the centre. Its imposing walls and majestic forms make the Horns one of the most interesting and wonderful mountains to admire.

During one of our breaks, we saw an Isreali trekkerpassed by with a huge rucksack on his back and a slightly smaller one in front.

View of Rio Frances and Glacier Frances from Pasarela Bridge
He was looking so hot and red that we thought he might collapse from the heat any moment. It turned out that he was heading to Campamento Italiano and asked us if it was still far away. Judging from the map and that we had passed Lago Skottsberg, it would probably be another hour or so before reaching the camp. It was amazing to see how much stuff some people carried along the trek, including one lady with a huge pot hanging from her rucksack!

Shortly before arriving at Rio del Frances, the magnificent Cerro Paine Grande with its hanging glaciers came into view. Omg, it was just so beautiful. As we crossed the Pasarela Bridge over the French River, the view of the mountain and the French Glacier was even grander. Campamento Italiano was just across this bridge.

The beautiful turquoise Lago Nordenskjold
We continued for about half an hour after the campsite where we had an open view of the French Valley and Lago Nordenskjold and found a nice spot for lunch. It became really hot in the afternoon with temperature of about 25 deg C and the sun was really burning down at us!

The next 5.5km trail to Refugio Los Cuernos seemed fairly easy from the map and was supposed to take only 2 hours to reach. However, we did not expect that a part of the trail to be steep, sandy and slippery while on the descent to the shore of Lago Nordenskjold which took us nearly two hours to reach. Moreover, we could not see the refugio from the trail but just the extensive lake. So it was a question of how long more we had to walk before reaching the Refugio.

Anyway, the calm Lago Nordenskjold looked really inviting to just jump in and cool down.

Just taking a rest on shore of Lago Nordenskjold after a long day of hiking
But gosh, the glacial water was really cold. I did not even try to dip my feet into the water! We had a long break there to recuperate from the heat and chatted with a group of trekkers coming our way and going towards Campamento Italiano. They told us that we were only half an hour away from the Refugio. That was really good news!

The next half an hour trek was a rocky one as we walked next to the shores of the lake. We finally arrived at Refugio Los Cuernos at 5pm. A pretty refugio sitting at the foot of the Los Cuernos mountains, it offers also camping facilities and private cabins. As we would be staying here for three nights, they were very nice to give us the only room with three bunk beds. The other two dormitories had eight bunk beds each.

Refugio Cuernos and the Cuernos Cabanas at the foot of Cuernos del Paine and on the shores of Lago Nordenskjold
The toilet and shower room was also clean and spacious.

The dining room with its open kitchen had some of the best views with the lake on one side and the snow covered Paine Grande on the other side. It was lovely. Dinner was great as we had tasty pea soup with fresh breads, grilled chicken and rice and strawberry pudding.

As we planned to be on the trail already by 7am the next morning, we had to wait for after dinner at 9pm to collect our lunchbox for the next day. At least we were not disappointed as it was chicken sandwich instead of tuna (probably leftover from dinner!). Instead of oranges, we had apples and instead of biscuits, we had chocolate brownie. At least it was a pleasant change. We went to bed early but the refugio was quite noisy with the wooden floorboards squeaking every now and then from the movement and our room was next to the reception office. I finally fell asleep at around midnight when it was all quiet.

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An American trekker with his ex-gi…
An American trekker with his ex-g…
On the start of the trek from Refu…
On the start of the trek from Ref…
Los Cuernoss unique composition w…
Los Cuernos's unique composition …
View of Rio Frances and Glacier Fr…
View of Rio Frances and Glacier F…
The beautiful turquoise Lago Norde…
The beautiful turquoise Lago Nord…
Just taking a rest on shore of Lag…
Just taking a rest on shore of La…
Refugio Cuernos and the Cuernos Ca…
Refugio Cuernos and the Cuernos C…
Looking back at Refugio y Area de …
Looking back at Refugio y Area de…
Walking towards Cuernos del Paine
Walking towards Cuernos del Paine
The magnificent Cerro Paine Grande…
The magnificent Cerro Paine Grand…
Crossing the Pasarela Bridge
Crossing the Pasarela Bridge
Rio Frances
Rio Frances
Lunch spot with Lago Nordenskjold …
Lunch spot with Lago Nordenskjold…
The beautiful lantern look alike f…
The beautiful lantern look alike …
This is how you should behave resp…
This is how you should behave res…
Reaching the shores of Lago Norden…
Reaching the shores of Lago Norde…
Reflections on Lago Nordenskjold
Reflections on Lago Nordenskjold
The calm Lago Nordenskjold with Cu…
The calm Lago Nordenskjold with C…
Passing Cuerno Principal (2600m, l…
Passing Cuerno Principal (2600m, …
Cuerno Norte (2400m), Cuerno Princ…
Cuerno Norte (2400m), Cuerno Prin…
A close up of the Cuernos Cabanas …
A close up of the Cuernos Cabanas…
The open air hot tub, kept warm by…
The open air hot tub, kept warm b…
Reflections of Cuernos del Paine
Reflections of Cuernos del Paine
Enjoying the big skies with the in…
Enjoying the big skies with the i…
Enjoying the afternoon sun and vie…
Enjoying the afternoon sun and vi…
The cosy dinning area of Refugio C…
The cosy dinning area of Refugio …
The many loafs of breads to be bak…
The many loafs of breads to be ba…
The 8 people dormitory
The 8 people dormitory
The highest triple deckle bed I ha…
The highest triple deckle bed I h…
Torres Del Paine
photo by: Vlindeke