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Torres Del Paine W Trek

East to West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torres del Paine W Trek

East to West

Introduction

Hiking the W Trek Trail East to West means that you are starting at the trail head located close to Hotel Las Torres. Also in this sector is the Eco Camp and Refugios Central and Norte. In addition, the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre is also located in this area.

Typically, a person will start their trek from the above-mentioned area and hike 2hrs up to the Refugio Chileno. Basically, Refugio Chileno is the place to stay for your first night on the W Trek, if there is space. Above all, the trek from Refugio Chileno is only 2hrs to the iconic Torres Base, which is where the lagoon is located at the base of the three tower spires, after which the Park gets its name “Torres”, meaning “Towers” of Paine.

After the Torres Base

Following a visit to the Torres Base and a night at Refugio Chileno the trail comes back down to a point where it will fork right and lead to where Refugio, Cabins and Serviced Camping Cuernos is located. This is a main stop off for people trekking the W. Alternatively, there is an option to walk a further 1hr and stay the night at Domos Frances. Moreover, staying at Domos Frances means that you will be one hour closer to the entrance to the French Valley.

After Cuernos, trekkers have the option to go into the stunning French Valley and back out, or cut it entirely and hike on to Refugio Paine Grande.

Refugio Paine Grande is a large refugio and also the start, or drop off point, for the catamaran that operates between Paine Grande and Pudeto. Some people terminate their Trek here, whilst others prefer to do the “full W Trek” and continue on to Refugio Grey, located at the far western arm of the trail, close to Glacier Grey. The trail will pass beside the Grey Lake and at one point, on a clear day, there is a spectacular view of the lake and Grey Glacier at the end, coming down from the Southern Ice Field of the Andes.

Advantages to Trekking East to West

Many of our clients ask the question: Which is the best direction to hike the W Trek Trial? Our answer is always, “in reality is does not matter”. As long as you stop regularly to admire the views, you will get the same views. However, if the prevailing wind is blowing, hiking East to West will mean that you are headed IN TO the wind.

Our Suggestion

Here at ExperienceChile.Org we have developed thousands of Torres del Paine W Trek itineraries. The reality is that the first thing we do is to get you the accommodation. Without the accommodation nailed you cannot do the trek, therefore this is the first base reality.

Once we have the accommodation confirmed we then look at all the other logistics connected to your wider travel itinerary. For these reasons, should we take care of all your requirements in an, and around Patagonia, you will have a lot of hassle taken off your mind!

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Further below is a full W Trek East to West trail description of each of the sectors, along with photos and maps.

If you’d like us to suggest or create an itinerary for you, please EMAIL US.

Direct W Trek Request Email: request@experiencechile.org

W Trek Trail Map East to West

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

W Trek Trail Brief Sector Descriptions East to West

Start at Estancia Sector and End at Grey Sector

How many sectors can the W Trek be broken into?

The W trek can be broken into three sectors which are:

EASTERN END: The Estancia Sector
This includes the trek to the base of the Towers.
Hosteria Las Torres, and the Refugio Torre of Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp and the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre.

CENTRAL PART: Cuernos Sector
This includes the trek into the French Valley.
Cabañas Cuernos, Domos Cuernos and Refugio Cuernos.

WESTERN END: Grey Sector
This includes the trek along Grey Lake to Glacier Grey.
Refugio Paine Grande and Refugio Grey.

NOTE: The information further below is for a W- Trek going East to West. If trekking West to East you can enter the W.Trek trail from Refugio Paine Grande. To do this you will need to cross over on the catamaran from Pudeto (pay the passage on board in cash) and from Paine Grande either go West to Refugio Grey (4hrs) and after that walk the entire W Trek West to East, or go East 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. 

Central (Estancia Sector) to the Torres Base

Operated: Between October to end of April

Start: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte or ECO Camp. And, of course from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, which is located in this area.
End: Back at the same start point or at Refugio Chileno, Refugio Cuernos, Cabañas Cuernos or Domos Frances.
Trek Time: Allow 9hrs return time
Distance: Trail head to Torres Base and back: 18km. 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.
Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 866m.

Description

This trek can be broken into four sectors:

Estancia sector to the entrance to the Ascencio Valley

This is the route up to Refugio Chileno and 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.

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

Central (Estancia Sector) to Cuernos

(Hiking East to West) or on to Domos Frances (1hr past Cuernos)

Operated: Between October to end of April

Start: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp or Refugio Chileno. And, of course from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, which is located in this area.
End: Refugio Cuernos, Cabañas Cuernos or Domos Frances.
Trek Time: Allow 5hrs one way.
Distance: 11km to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos, and 13.5km if to Domos Frances.
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 250m

Description

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.

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

Cuernos Refugio Paine Grande (via the French Valley)

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio or Cabañas Cuernos, or Domos Frances

End: Refugio Paine Grande

Trek Time: Allow 5hrs if trekking direct to Paine Grande and 10hrs if trekking into and out of the French Valley. If starting at Domos Frances take one hour of these times.

Distance: 24km if going via the French Valley and 13km if going direct to Paine Grande. If starting at Domos Frances these distances will be about 2.5km less.

Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.

Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.

Altitude Gain: 1,100m

Description

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 and a short-suspended foot bridge.

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.

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

Paine Grande to Refugio Grey

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio Paine Grande
End: Refugio Grey
Trek Time: 4hrs
Distance: 11km
Difficulty: Medium.
Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.
Altitude Gain: 485m

Description

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 stay the night and the next day take the boat across Grey Lake (pre-booked by Experience Chile) to Hotel Lago Grey or trek back to Paine Grande. Alternatively, if you arrive to Refugio Grey early you can take the boat across the lake to Hotel Grey that same day. Other options are to do an Ice Hike on Glacier Grey and / or Kayak – both need to be pre-booked, which we can arrange.

Another option is to return back to Paine Grande (4hrs remember) and take the catamaran across the lake Pehoe to Pudeto.

2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

END OF THE “W” (East to West)

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2 A TDP W TREK EAST TO WEST

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