Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday: hiking las torres

If you've only got one day in the Torres del Paine national park, there's really only one thing to be done - the hike out to view the Torres. This one-day out and back is often combined with other sections to make 5 to 10 day expeditions around many of the glacier fields that make up the park.

The Torres themselves are three huge granite columns that surround the smaller Torres glacier, and it's associated azure glacial pool. We got there around 12 after best part of four hours hiking, the final 40 mins up quite steep grades and across the rubble fields of numerous avalanches. Unfortunately the peaks of the Torres (literally, towers) themselves were shrouded in cloud, but nevertheless an awesome sight, like a cathedral of rock with the vertical strata lines the organ pipes. The way back down we were rewarded with sun and clear skies and some amazing views.

We benefited again from the general strike and road blocks - since Wednesday guests have been gradually  leaving the park as they complete their itineraries and manage to find a way out, but no new visitors are able to come in. Normally this hike would be boarding on crowded at this time of year, but instead we saw maybe a dozen other walkers over 7 hours. It would be so tempting to stay longer and make use of this rare opportunity to do a longer circuit, only we lack more serious hiking gear and also there's a chance the park will have to start closing down if petrol and food start runing low. And we have plenty more to do on our itinerary!

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