Saturday, February 6, 2010

Torres Del Paine

Torres Del Paine, Chile, the jaw-dropping Unesco World Biosphere Reserve is an amazing National Park visited by 200,000 visitors a year. The granite peaks that make TDP famous reach an altitude of over 3000m. We decided to hike the "W", a popular four to five day trek in TDP.

The park was really busy and the campsites were crowded. And not everyone was even camping. The park allows private companies to establish "Refugios" which are basically hostels within the park. Campers who use Refugios get warm showers and cooked meals, however, they pay outrageous prices for such luxuries. Campers who opt to sleep in tents get to feel high and mighty because they know that other hikers are staying in the Refugios while they are toughing it out.

View from the boat ride into Torres Del Paine.

On Sunday the Super Bowl was happening back in the States. Nick was pretty keen on watching it live so we made sure that we were camping at the only Refugio with a bar and TV. A few hours before sunset this was the view from our campsite.

A festive welcome to the camp at the base of Valley Frances.

A view of surrounding walls in Valley Frances. We stood around for a bit and watched ice fall into the deep ravine below.

A view of the Torres from Valley Frances. This was the only clear view we got of the Torres because the weather during the rest of the hike was crap.

On our fifth and final morning in the park we woke up at 4am and hiked in the snow for one hour to reach the summit.

Just behind me is where the Torres should be.

Back in Puerto Natales we took a full day to recover from backpacking after the hike. Here is a statue of the Giant Mylodon that was discovered near Puerto Natales. The Mylodon was a huge sloth that ate vegetation.

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