Friday, 24 December 2010

Torres Del Paine National Park - Trekking around the Massif

MJC suggests putting on the Wagner to view these pics. 

Between 17th and 21st December, we trekked around the central massif on this incredible piece of Patagonia.  This was the route called the W, with distances between 10 and 20 kilometres each day.
We did it from East to West.

So Day 1 meant a trip up and back to the granite Torres of the national park.  The three summits are between 2000 and 2800 metres high.

Heading back towards our first refuge of four on this 19 kilometres walk.

A Long Tailed Meadow Lark on second day of trek.

En route, ridiculously blue lakes.  Day 2 entailed a modest 11 km walk above the northern shore of Lago Nordenskjold and under Cerro Almirante Nieto.

The summit is at 2668 metres.

Spot the Andean condors, circling over the high glaciers.

The Andean condor is the world's largest flying bird.  We saw them everyday.  Almost commonplace by the end.  We encountered nowhere else in the Andes other than in southern Patagonia.

Bit further west, the 'Cuernos' peaks of Torres Del Paine.  Not far from here is the refuge for our second night. 

The views on the third and longest day's walking were the most spectacular.  They included the Glaciar del Frances.

As we walked up Valle del Frances, every now and again, great blocks of ice on the glacier would tumble and cascade in avalanches.  Boomed around the valley as thundering detonations.

Bit of nostalgia for former guests of the Explora hotel.  On the far shore of the second lake back.

The views got ever more amazing as we climbed further up the Valle del Frances, into the interior of the massif.

Dead forest below the 'other side' of the Cuernos.

Us at the mirador towards the top of the valley

Vistas and local weather very exciting.

Celebrations with a pisco sour after a fabulous day's walking.  A strong PS is also one way to face the sleeping arrangements.

To be honest, this is not the refuge where MJC posed with the pisco sour.  This 8 person dorm was at the refuge where a delightful American lady took 3 minutes to find and silence her alarm which went off at 2.30 am.

The approach to the far westerly point of our W trek.  The front of Glacier Grey.

This glacier is more than 7 kilometres at its widest and yet another icy tongue of the humungous Southern Patagonian Ice Field.  This is one of the many Patagonian glacier which is shrinking.

We didn't do this trek without some serious stumbling and killer climbs.  Most days we had about 15 kgs on our bags.

We faced winds that make the trees grow like this.   On day 4 they blew cold rain in our faces all day.

But enough whinges.  We would love it to do it all again and many more of the trails in the stunning Torres Del Paine National Park.

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