Torres del Paine – the "W" walk

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The Famous Torres del paine

Occasionally I like to include other world walks to give you a perspective. So here’s our article on the famous Patagonian walk – the “W”.

We were at Refugio Chileno in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, Patagonia.
 The weather looked great. Mike, Matt and Liz got up early to try and see the towers at dawn.
We decided to have breakfast and then climb up to the towers viewpoint (Mirador). This meant that we would be catching the later (7pm) bus back to Puerto Natales.

We enjoyed breakfast with Sean and Alicia (Madonna) and then back on the track with a daypack. After having walked for 4 days, our muscles were accustomed to the rhythm and we made good progress.

The last section was a rock scramble over a lunar landscape. Once we reached the lip of the glacial crater and saw the Towers, all our tiredness vanished and we enjoyed the views in the bright sunlight. This is known as following one’s fascination.  The average height of the Towers was 2800 meters.

The Towers are often obscured by the harsh winds blowing mists and clouds over them. The traditional visit to view the Towers is at sunrise. We had heard a number of disappointed walkers who had done this and seen only shrouded towers in the cold. Our later start had paid off.

Below the Towers is a small milky-green glacial lake tucked into the mountainside. The sun glinted off the snow at the base of the Towers. One of our South American walking companions clambered down to the lake, stripped off to his shorts and plunged into the icy water.

His wife drew out a towel from his backpack and shook her head in disbelief at his quick bath. Since there was no wind the sun warmed us all up. We gazed out at the incredibly large rock formations and the remnants of the winters snows, still held captive in rocky crevasses.

You really can’t take it all in, it’s an overpowering sight and somewhat unreal. After about half an hour we had absorbed enough of the splendid views and the cold wind was nudging us back, we knew it was time to return. If we were spritely enough, we might even catch the 3pm bus back to Puerto Natales.

See you next time.

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