Torres Del Pain(e) - Fire, mud, sweat and blood
Trip Start Mar 06, 2009
20Trip End Mar 06, 2010
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1. "If you do it, I hope to see you back here alive"
2. "The pass is closed, don't do the Grande, no rangers or facilities"
3. "3 days ago my friend trekked for 4 hours in 60 cm deep snow"
Now, what we should have known / read before is...
1 "The Grande Circuit - This trek is the longest, with varying grades of difficulty, and passes through the wonderland of craggy, granite peaks, snow clad mountains, glacier-fed lakes, waterfalls and rivers, pampas and thick Magellanic forests
2. "Trekkers and backpackers should have experience with rough country, and climbers must have experience with ice and snow climbing. Be prepared for bad weather to interrupt your itinerary. Flexible planning is necessary."
3. "The weather in Torres del Paine park is changeable but the wind is a constant. Rain, sleet and snow can follow a day of bright sunshine in spring or early summer. Even in summer, there are strong winds (up to 80 km/hr) and rainfalls."
We thought we would be on a heavily tourist beaten track with kiosks, viewing platforms, pleasant walks and a bit of camping. We thought it would be a walk in the park.
We were actually about to embark on one of the most famous trekking circuits in world. Trekkers around the globe wet their lips at an opportunity to tackle this beast yet here we were, in our trackies (no waterproofs, gaiters or such like) unbeknownst.
Day 1 (Torres to Seron): The excitement of getting in touch with nature and spending the night in a tent outdoors got us through the first day's 5 hour trek quite easily. Like lambs to the slaughter we moved beyond the point of no return. Our first night the stats started to increase:
Lost Items: 1 (Torch - kinda important)
Mosquito Bite: 15 (Face and rear)
Warnings: 2 (fellow trekkers suggesting we return as we were novice and out of our hiking depth)
Day 2 (Seron to Dickson): After our first night on the freezing floor (which included a rat attack) we weighed up the risks and in a moment of complete bravery (stupidity) we asked ourselves the frank question - "How hard could it be?"
Day 3 (Dickson to Los Perros): Despite the traumatic 2nd day we were now too far gone to turn back, besides with our tent dry, wounds bandaged and words of optimism of passersby our confidence grew (once again).. The 9km (4 hour) day was mainly through dense forest (hobbit land), captivating to be in for the first couple hours
Day 4 (Los Perros to Paso): Enjoyment has commenced, gone are the fears only to be replaced by adrenalin and amazing views of mountain peaks, glaciers and winding valleys in autumn colours. There is enough beauty to hurt your eyes as much as the hike hurts your feet. We mounted the beast with gusto even though we were overtaken within the first 30 minutes of the climb. We gave ourselves ten hours to finish, this section is graded "difficult" with a professional time of 6 hours so we thought 4 hours extra was ample leeway
Day 5 (Paso - Los Guardas - Grey - Paine Grande): "F*** another cold, rainy, sleepless night, how much can i pay to be air lifted out of here?!" We had to get out of this park. The highs of making the pass were behind us and we were left with only the sad fact that we were cold, wet, sore and a long walk(s) from home. The only shining light was that we would be traveling downhill on the popular and open "W" circuit. This actually proved to be the most enjoyable day of them all. Our goal to make at least one section within the suggestion time limit was reached on the first attempt and superceeded by halving the suggested time on the next section. With two down, one to go and 3.5 hours hours of daylight between us and a warmish shower, roof and possibly a bed we decided to push on and do the whole western side of the course (21km, and a few climbs) in a day
Oh, and we forgot to mention we each were carrying approx 20kgs on our backs. Standard for any multiple day hike apparently.
Number of falls:
Kim - 6 (mostly on flat ground)
Craig - 4 (mostly in snow)
Number of injuries
Kim - 7 blisters, all on feet and a few bruises
Craig - 1 blister, hips and damaged knee. Also a damaged walking shoe from holding it too close to the fire
Number of songs rehashed and sang at top volume: 7,000,000,000
Number of teary sessions cried:
Kim - 3 (of pain, frustration and general tantrums)
Craig - 2 (of please don't let me die here and not with the clumsiest girl in the world)