Expedition "El Chileno" - Torres del Paine Day 1

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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34
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Trip End Nov 04, 2008


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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, January 27, 2008

As with most of these trips that you need to get transport via an organised bus, we had to get up early to wait for the bus at 7.30am. And as most of the times before there is a series of elements that coincide:
- we get up at 6 am to be ready and have breakfast
- the bus doesn't turn up until half an hour later than 7.30am (given it has to pick up a load of other 42 tourists in different hotels...all at 7.30 am - impossible obviously!)
- we donīt arrive at the place we wanted to get to until lunch time

Anyway, apart from the usual lack of information in the Chilean organisation (it works, but they just dont know how to inform about it) we finally get to Torres del Paine.

The entrance to the National Park was $15,000 (about 20 Euro) for foreigners and $4,000 for Chilean nationals, but the money seems well invested in the infrastructrure of the Park.

Our first Expedition (out of the 7 expeditions planned in our 5 day trekking project) was from base camp (Hosteria Las Torres) to Refugio Chileno. During the next 5 days our plan was to do what they call the "Double U" due to the shape pattern the camps have.

However we selected a wrong camp base to start with (due to lack of information and map reading skills) and instead of leaving our approximately 25-30 kilos of weight at base camp (Hosteria las Torres), we struggled up 2 hours of high walking to Refugio Chileno (only to walk it down again the next day). For this we have a lot to blame the South American Footprint Guide which recommended this, but obviously these guides go along with no weight and on horses invited by the rangers...otherwise their comments would not make sense. We put this one down to experience anyway, and carefully read our maps from there onwards.

Unluckily for Veronika, her socks started rubbing against the back of both her feet on the way up and by the time we reached Refugio Chileno she had two huge blisters which we tried to "repair" with our elementary first aid kit at lunch time but which did not look at all good.

We camped at Refugio Chileno. The Camp would soon to be renamed by us "Camp Pooh 1" using a comparison to the Himalaya mountains K-1 and K-2 and the fact that KK in Spanish is Pooh. Why? Simply because the smell in the camping was KK...there was only 15-20 tents and the building with bunkbeds, but the stench was quite unbearable. Later in the trekking a second Camp Pooh would be located...

Anyway, after pitching our "micro-tent" we continued our climbing towards the towers - Las Torres. With regards to the tent, no joke here...effectively both Veronika and myself had to sleep in foetal position as the tent was so small, and leave all our equipment outside under the rain cover. We bought the tent for emergencies and looked for the lightest one...light it is with only 1.5 kilograms of weight, but little did we know it had been made for the small version of the Patagonian Dwarf - Dwarfus Patagonicus.

Another 3 hours of challenging walk (forrest, rocks, etc) under a burning sun which was very unusual for this Park allowed us to reach our target - the base of the three granite towers - Las Torres. An amazing view which we try to reflect in the several photographs we have attached (and video added on Day 5 further along the travelblog).

Little else to add on the day except intense muscle tiredness after the 8 hour walk and the early rise. We entered our micro-tent, only to fight space and sound (sound due to the two Chilean girls camping next to us attempting to listen to hard rock at 11.30pm at night. Veronika sorted this out quickly with a strong "Porque no te callas!" which did the trick (thanks King Juan Carlos for this phrase which has seriously made Spaniards popular again in this part of South America...)
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