Torres del Paine (Towers of Pain) - Part 1

Trip Start Oct 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 14, 2011

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Where I stayed
In a tent

Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 1

The big day had arrived. We were up at 6am. I was full of beans and rearing to go (though by 8.15am the adrenaline had gone!!). Another super Susan breakfast and a final check of the bags before we jumped in the bus at 7.30am.

An interesting few days lay ahead. The weather forecast was rubbish, and trekking with the girls promises to be eventful. I canīt remember ever camping this long before. Such is the world of the traveller that this is common place. Roll on Torres del Paine!!

After dropping other trekkers off for the catamaran we continued to Sede Administration at the bottom of the "Q". We had some lunch and signed in the visitors book. I managed to cut myself and as a result bled all over the visitors book. Signed in blood with the first injury of the trip before we had even started!!

We departed at approx 12.30pm and walked directly into a supposedly 40km p/hr head wind (we all agreed it was most like a 60-70km p/hr wind) with our fully ladened backpacks. Only 17kms to go!! We battled on into the wind and settled into a casual pace. To pass the time General Steffi (GS) gave a challenge to name the only 5 countries in the world where their names do not contain a capital letter that you can colour in. ie E is o.k but A is not. Its quite challenging without a map. See if you can do it. A prize is on offer to the first correct answer.

The last few kms provided us with fantastic views of the whole mountain range which was the purpose of the walk. Then we got a first sight of the Aqua/Teal/Turquoise coloured lakes against the backdrop of the mountain range. It was jawdropping scenery. This was emphasised by Carina shouting "Oh my God" every 5 mins from the excitement. We all had to admit it was impressive. It was just like the scenery in Rings of the Lord according Carina (we had a good laugh at that one). Many photos were taken so it wasnīt a surprised that it took us nearly 6 hours to reach Refugio Paine Grande.

We set up camp after paying our 4500 pesos to stay. Rumour has it that it used to be a charge by tent, but one day they found a tent with 20 backpackers in it and changed to it to per person. haha!!

GS cooked our first dinner while we set up the tents. First course was pasta followed by a second course of pasta with JBīs Ali Pebre spicey sauce for added flavour. I can recommend the sauce as it was great on everything. We got jealous of the other trekkers who had wine, so we brought some for the next night. I tried to get all 4 of us in one tent but the girls were having none of it. GS has taken to calling me Del Boy for some reason. We crashing around 10.15pm but not before a tipple of our travel rum sent us to sleep.

Day 2

It absolutely pissed down throughout the night. So it was no surprise we didnīt get out of bed on time as we waited for it to clear. Eventually we were up at 9am. GS went to prepare breakfast while we packed up camp. Fruit bars, tea, soup and cereal was on the menu. Very tasty. We finally left at 11am after a lot of fluffing about from Kaj and Carina. GS and I were later to discover they were putting on a little make up. Loco!!

The weather wasnīt great but it wasnīt as windy as the first day thankfully. We headed for Glacier Grey. The plan was to stay at the free camp approx 1-2 hours past Refugio Grey. Once we reached first lookout we could see Glacier Grey for the first time along with beautifully turquoise icebergs in the lake. This first sighting was punctuated by Carinaīs increasing regular calls of "Oh My God!!" isnīt is amazing/beautiful etc... She was right it was awesome even in the poor weather we had.

To entertain ourselves on the walk I set the challenge for the day. The girls had to name 20 Arnold Schwarzenegger films. Kaj was pretty sharp and with a little assistance from me they got 20. They then hijacked my game and tried to name 15 films for people like Julia Roberts and all the men they thought were hot like Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Leonardo Dicaprio.

Our pace wasnīt very fast so when we rolled into Refugio Grey the decision was made to stay here, set up the tents and then walk further up towards Glacier Grey. This still look us an age with all the fluffing about. So much so GS and I nicknamed Kaj, Queen Fluffy (QF) and Carina, Princess Fluffy (PF). The Glacier was an impressive piece of ice to look at close up once we got there.

After a cold day on the trail the hot fire in the Refugio was divine. Especially when accompanied with our wine. We were all finding that simple treats such as a glass of wine or some sweets were great motivation and reward for our endeavours. GS got to work on dinner and we dined with the other camping trekkers in a ramshackle hut with a plastic sheet for a roof. It was another gourmet selection of instant pasta which tasted great. We met Charlie and Kath from London along with Micheal and Kate from Australia and shared our days stories before calling it a night with another tipple of rum around 10pm.

Day 3

In our efforts to get away earlier, we were up at 7.20am to GS cooking breakfast. Somehow the Fluffyīs managed to take longer than the previous days and we didnīt get away until 10am.

We had mixed weather for the walk again but with Kaj spurred on by a hot lunch we practically flew down the valley in 4 hours. While we were walking the girls went from dreaming about biscuits and pate for lunch to hot noodles and finally settled on a hot hamburger lunch in the Refugio. It seemed to coincide with the weather getting colder and wetter as we walked down. I was not party to this discussion and only informed afterwards. Still it was getting rather cold so they got no argument from me. They definitely won me over when they charmed the guy behind the counter to give us free tea and hot chocolate. A pretty smile certainly goes a long way in an isolated rainy windsweeped mountain range. I knew there was a reason I brought them along. :-)

By the time we resumed our trek for the final couple of hours to free camp Italiano the weather was appalling. So much so I was able to use my waterproof pants I brought especially in Puerto Natales (and now have to carry around for the rest of the trip. Trust me donīt bother). They did pay dividends as we had 4 seasons of weather in each hour of the walk including sideways snow. I enjoyed the walk, though due to a extremely poor decision on underwear I was developing a chaffing problem. Not good.

At Camp Italiano GS and I got stuck into the white wine. We upped our intake with 3 litres of wine for the evening. Along with more pasta and for the first time some instant rice. I also had a special treat when some friendly Frenchies gave me some of their instand mash potato. It was so good I immediately enquired with the General as to why we didnīt have any! Iīd recommend it for any trek.

We had a fun night with the other trekkers that were slowly becoming our new family. Charlie and Kath officially joined our posse and drunken carnage ensued as GS and PF got boozed and provided us with some great entertainment. Their decision at 11pm to boil some hot water for a hot water bottle was classic.

They wandered off to the river with only one light. You could see this one light flashing all over the place so it was no surprise when we heard PF shout "Oh my God" as she stepped in a big paddle of water covering her shoe and ankle. Much hilarity followed as two drunken women started arguing. It went something like this.

PF - Oh My God, my shoe is all wet!
GS - Ah stop your complaining!
PF - You were meant to shine the light in my path. I knew I should have had the light!
GS - Ah youīll be alright!
PF - Where are my clean clothes? What did you do with them?
GS - I didnīt do anything with them!
PF - Yes you did. You must have. I canīt find them!
GS - %%·&$&$!!!    You are so full of shit!
PF - Ah here they are!

QF and I, along with the entire campsite were rolling around in our tents laughing. They never did get that hot water bottle. It was comedy gold!!

Lights out at 23.48pm. Halfway through. 3 days to go...

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Albane on

Hi Jon,

how are you?
Let me wish you a fantastic 2011 and enjoy the rest of your splendid trip!
It looks like a blast!
Keep on going and hope we will meet again some day...

Greetz from Belgium,

Jess on

Muy bien my travelling friend.....

Matty B on

Big Oos! Merry Christmas and Happy new year me ol mate! Have been reading your blog with much interest! Is sounding great and appears to be a bit of a running theme of drunken nights and dancing...keep up the good work and let us know what date you are in Sydney and wish to crash.

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