Torres del Paine:
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—(East to West)
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—(East to West)
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Torres del Paine W Trekking Route East to West
(If going West to East the following info is in reverse order)
Estancia Sector = Hosteria Las Torres, and the Refugio´s Torres Central and Norte
The Mirador or Base = The View Point to see the “Towers” of TDP
Cuernos Sector = Cabañas Cuernos, Domos Cuernos and Refugio Cuernos
Estancia Sector to the Mirador Las Torres
(or Torres Base as it is also known)
Allow 8hrs return time from Estancia trail head sector / 18km if going up and back down.
Altitude Gain: 866m. However, many people stay at Refugio Chileno to break this trek. Refugio Chileno is half way between Estancia Sector and the Torres Base (base of the Towers) and a 2hr trek up from the trail head beside Hotel Las Torres and 2hrs from the Torres Base.
This trek can be broken into four sectors:
- Estancia sector to the entrance to the Ascencio Valley: This takes about 1hr 15min up a steady incline.
- Entrance to the Ascencio Valley to Refugio Chileno: This takes about 45min and is mostly downhill. For the first 200 metres, on the right side of the trail is a steep drop down into the valley and the river below. BE CAREFUL – THERE ARE OFTEN VERY STRONG WINDS AROUND THE ACUTE BEND WHERE THE PATH ENTERS INTO ASCENCIO VALLEY.
- Refugio Chileno to the Glacial Moraine Sector: This takes about 1hr along an undulating trail, steep in short sections. There are two river crossings, with bridges, and a dense lenga (beech tree) forest (older than 100 years) to walk through.
- The Moraine Sector: This takes 1hr approx, uphill, over and between large boulders of glacial moraine, which is the most difficult part and walking poles are very helpful. Since this part of the trek heads north, towards the Mirador, the wind is usually head-on and this makes it more strenuous and difficult than it would normally be.
Estancia Sector to Cuernos (Hiking East to West) or on to Domos Frances (1hr past Cuernos)
Allow 5hrs (11km) (6hrs, 13,5 km if going to Domos Frances)
This trek passes along the northern shore of the Nordenskjold Lake on the left, with its amazing dark-bluish water and on the right hand side the breathtaking granite spires of Los Cuernos. The hike is along medium-difficulty terrain, with some hills, but every time you reach the top of a hill there is an amazing view. Just before arrival at Refugio / Cabanas Cuernos the trail passes through a beech-tree wood.
Cuernos Sector to Refugio Paine Grande via the French Valley
Allow 10hrs (24km) if via the French Valley and 5hrs (13km) if going direct to Paine Grande.
From sector Los Cuernos the trail undulates going up, down, across some streams and into wooded areas, but nothing too strenuous. After about 1hr it will pass by Domos Frances and then after another 1hr you will arrive to the un-serviced camping ground called Camp Italiano, which is at the entrance to the French Valley.
The French Valley part is a steady up-hill trail reaching an altitude of around 900m at the non-serviced Camp Britanico located about 1hr before at the “end” of the valley. However, if the weather is clear the views in the French Valley are spectacular, especially around Camp Britanico. Here, after traversing rivers and passing a beech-tree (lenga) wood, the skyline is dwarfed by granite spires and the “Paine Grande” – the highest mountain peak in the Park at 3,050m above sea level. The return trek will involve back-tracking until your reach the non-serviced camp ground called Camp Italiano, where the trail will veer right (if going to Refugio Paine Grande), across a suspension foot bridge to go over the Frances River and then the trail flattens out until reaching Refugio Paine Grande. From Camp Italiano to Paine Grande is about 2.5hrs.
Paine Grande to Refugio Grey
Allow 3.5hrs (11km)
From Paine Grande the path ascends a hill to an altitude of 485m. This ascent is initially gradual and steady, becoming steeper the closer you get to the top of the hill. Once over the apex the path flattens out through a wood until it then drops down the other side towards Grey Lake. In parts the path is narrow and steep. Where the path follows the lake it is largely level, surrounded by old beech trees and bushes and if you are lucky you may hear the sounds of the Magellan Woodpecker. Once Grey Lake is in full view you will see glacial icebergs, which, if you have never seen such a sight is an amazing experience, but when you see Glacier Grey for the first time in the distance, the view is outstanding.
From Refugio Grey you either need to take the boat across Grey Lake at 13:30hrs (pre-booked by Experience Chile) to Hotel Lago Grey or trek back to Paine Grande and take the catamaran across the lake to Pudeto.
END OF THE “W” (East to West)
You can enter the W trek trail from Paine Grande. Cross over on the catamaran from Pudeto (pay the passage on board in cash) and from Paine Grande either go to Refugio Grey and after that walk the entire W Trek West to East, or from Paine Grande walk straight to Domos Frances or Cuernos. You can also take the boat from Hotel Grey across Grey Lake to Refugio Grey and start from there, again, West to East.
The hiking times are estimated.
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