Tag Archives: Torres de Paine National Park

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 6

Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande (11km, 3.5h) – Catamaran – Puerto Natales by bus

Last day of our “W” hiking

To take 12.30 pm boat from Lake Pehoé, we left our refugio at 8 am to allow enough time for the estimated 4 hour hike. The path was familiar and easy, even though it looks always different from the opposite  direction.

We arrived at Lake Pehoé too early and relaxed at the terrace of the Refugio Grande Paine, enjoying the view and chatting with other hikers.

A boat took a full load of tired, yet happy hikers from the pier and glided on the azure-color water to the other side of the lake. From the boat we could see the entire panorama of the Torres del Paine range: imposing Los Curenos and sharp peaks of Los Torres, with the profound Valle del Francés – almost like a review of our 6 day hike.

At the end of the pier a bus was already waiting to transport the smelly crowd back to Puerto Natales. We were happy to get back to a hotel with a working shower and comfy beds for a good night sleep…

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 5

Refugio Paine Grande – Laguna Los Patos – Refugio Grey, 11km, 4h

We woke up to another sunny day with blue sky. A complete change from yesterday!

The Grande Paine Refugio is located in front of the expansive blue Pehoe Lake, and features a magnificent view of the Cuernos and Cumbre. It is an enormous refugio with 110 beds and a big camping site next to it. Unfortunately this incredible location has an incredibly bad level of hospitality. Philippe was greatly upset by their unfriendliness and inedible scramble eggs (or something yellow, dry, hard with a indefinable taste). We both returned them. This hotel felt like being run by people greatly bored with what they do. But that might just be what happend if you have a monopoly.

Happy to leave this refugio behind, we set out for the 5th day’s hike. A short winding climb lead us to a small lake with ducks, Laguna Los Patos. Very soon we came to a viewpoint of Grey Lake. The lake was, yes, very grey due to the glacier flowing into the water. Several icebergs were floating and far away the huge Grey Glacier waited at the end of the lake.

After arriving at Refugio Grey and relaxing on the sunny terrace for a couple hours, we walked to the Glacier Outlook point. It was incredible view in the blue, sunny sky!

But then again. We had a close to disgusting dinner. Some meat and rice cooked by somebody without taste buds and pride. Sooo disappointing. If you can’t cook, just don’t,  don’t!!

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 4

Domo Frances – Campo Italiano – Grande Paine Refugio, 11km, 3h

After another quiet night with non-snoring hut mates, Philippe slept till almost 9am. To Philippe’s delight, we had fresh and tasty scramble eggs for breakfast for the first time.

Outside it was grey and drizzling. Once the weather improved a bit, we decided to give it a go. Soon after our start the horizontal rain was upon us and turned into hail. It was hitting us so hard on our face that we had to bend our head down to the trail. No time to see anything. Everything got drenched in no time.

But in less than one hour we got out of the local weather hazard to the sunny side of the mountain. When we looked back, we could see the ominous grey weather and the blue sky in the same panorama. That’s the famous unpredictable Patagonian weather everybody talks about.

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 3

Refugio El Chileno – Domo Frances – Glaciar Lookout – Domo Frances, 16.5 km

The strong wind was howling the whole night and shaking our whole hut. Olga said in the morning that she was afraid that the refugio would be blown away.

So we woke up to the foul, true Patagonia weather. Yesterday Philippe and I were talking about the Patagnian wind: we hear so much about the gusty wind in Patagonia, but where is the wind?

Here we are – our first encounter with the infamous Patagonian weather. Gusty winds up to 80km/h. Looking out from the window, wind-loving Philippe screamed with excitement, while traumatized-by-tornados Yasuko was scared to be blown away by the gust. During the breakfast, it rained, the wind howled, the rainbow came out.

After the rain slowed down, we decided to brave into the wind with a full rain gear. The gust was so strong that the wind scooped the lake water and smashed it to our face with full speed. Everytime it happened, Philippe said to me, “Duck!” behind the trees, we contniued this exercies for half an hour. It was not easy to do this with a backpack of 11kg : ((

The trail at the lakeside was so exposed that the gust came in a full swing and I could see two men almost knocked into the bushes… Scary!!

After fighting through the heavy headwind and rain for one and half hour, we were relieved to arrive at the Domos Frances, the next hut.

We decided to wait for better weather at Domos Frances. in the meantime, Philippe had a nap, in a dome-like room with plenty of space.

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 2

Refugio El Chileno – Refugio Los Cuernos, 11Km

A beautiful hike through the bushes full of red flowers. We made a nice lunch stop at the elevated area with large, flat and smooth granite rocks, enjoying the full sun and a fantastic view of the azure-colored Nordernsjöld Lake. What a gorgeous day!

On the trail we talked to Olga, a chatty Polish from London, and Chantal from Vancouver. It is always nice to encounter wonderful hiking mates.

“W” Hike – Torres del Paine – Day 1

Hotel Las Torres – Refugio el Chileno – Mirador Base Las Torres – Refugio el Chileno – 13.5 km

The logistics to get to Los Torres del Paine is complex. First we had to take a 7 am bus for 2.5hrs to get to the national park entry about 112km away from Puerto Natales and after a short introdcution by the national park staff, we changed to a shuttle bus heading for the trailhead.

The heavy clouds made me concerned but I was nevertheless excited to start this hike. Immediately after the bus left the town the expansive Patagonian steppe continued miles after miles, zigzaging the hills and passing hundreds of wild guanacos (llama-like animals) gazing on the hills.

Finally the bus dropped a  full load of hikers with their heavy backpacks at the trailhead.

After 15 min. of walk, the luxurious Hotel des Torres appeared and Philippe wanted to make a short stop for what he thought to be the last acceptable expresso for a week (which proved to be true).

Now fuelled by espresso and hot chocolate, we shouldered our heavy backpacks and started our hike.

Our first destination was the Refugio Chileno where we would stay for a night. There we dropped our backpack and headed for the Torres del Paine viewpoint.

There were a lot of hikers on the trail, including a group of teenagers for a school outing. The trail was uphill and narrow, traversing the gravel, sometimes slipperly, mountain slope.

After arriving a the refugio earlier than expected,  we made a short lunch stop at the terrace before heading for the mirador (viewpoint), with a light daybag only. It was quite steep up for one hour. In the meantime, the sky opened up and the weather turned out to be fantastic.

The last climb through gravels and rocks opends suddently to the white-green glacier lake and soring granite pillars of Paine (2’850m)! Stunning!

Even though we had to share this view with hundreds of people and some men who proved their heroic maleness by jumping into the glacier lake, we admired the view…

Puerto Natales – The day before 

We arrived at Puerto Natales, the starting point town for the Torres del Paine, in the early afternoon.

After checking in our hotel and a nice lunch in this sleepy port town, we walked into an agency fully anticipating difficulties in booking our hiking trip to “W”.  As the buses to Puerto Natales were fully booked (we had to wait one more day at El Calafate) and we heard other tourists booked their hike 3 months in advace,  we were ready to wait for a couple of days to do the hike or in the worst case give up this highlight hike entirely.

So we were completely taken aback when a friendly, professional, English-speaking personal at the travel agency asked us, “when would you like to start your hike?”  The rest was easy. We booked all the refugios with full-board options (no need to carry our food) and everything was all set and paid. Philippe even had no time to even consider if he wants to tag along a 6-day hiking trip with me : )

We were ready to go from tomorrow!