The Towers of Patagonia (Day 5 of Torres del Paine)

I didn’t want to leave Cuernos! But we had to. When you enter the park they give you a punchcard with all the campsites listed on it. As you arrive at each one you are supposed to check in with the Park Rangers there and they punch that spot on your card. In theory you’re only supposed to stay at each place one night, although it seems like this could be easily circumvented.

Here’s our one complete group shot throwing “W”s:

The Secret Seven

Georgia had to catch a flight the next day so she left us this morning to hike back to the park entrance. This led to the origination of “WWGD?” or “What Would Georgia Do?” whenever faced with a choice or question for the next couple of days.

The rest of us pushed on for the ~20km hike up to Campamento Torres. The first section was flat, with lovely views of yellow brush, wildflowers and swooping rocks across the lake the whole way.

Swooping rocks

The rock looks even bigger with me perched on it. These types of rocks are called “erratic rocks”, rocks left in seemingly random locations, left there by moving glaciers years and years and years ago:

Me on a rock gives perspective

I loved this yellow:

Yellow brush

Ruth the photographer in action:

Photos of dandelions

Self timer action shot:

The crew hiking in a row

From here we took the “shortcut trail” up to Refugio Chileno.

Shortcut to Torres

Where the shortcut meets the main trail is up high along a ridge line above a river canyon. Turquoise water rushing through the river. Beautiful.

Valley with river

Rene and Katarina

So much snow stacked in these mountains:

Glacier along hike to Torres

It was a fairly easy day of hiking, which made me happy about our route choice. I liked doing the tough days first and have it get easier. We stopped at the refugio along the way for a break and were treated to (well, bought) some fresh bread with toasted sesame seeds on top. Gnom gnom, so good. I never knew I’d be so excited about bread but after pasta and oatmeal for the past few days, why not throw another starch into the mix.

I should mention that both Rene/Katrina and Stefan bought boxes of wine here for our last night. I didn’t know we were turning into such party animals! Oh and more chocolate of course, I had to continue my chocolate love affair.

We reached the Torres campsite around 5pm. It was a blue sky day and the sun was making its way toward setting behind the mountains. Stefan, the energizer bunny hiker that he is – and also the very smart guy he is – rallied the group to do the final 1 hour hike up to see The Towers now while it was sunny, in case the weather turned overnight. Las Torres / The Towers are the photo that is most famous from this park. The tricky part is timing it right with weather so you can actually see them!

It was a race against the sunset, and it was tough. The Mirador (“lookout”) is an hour hike completely uphill, and this came after we had already hiked eight hours that day. I could see Stefan literally running across the mountain on the trail up ahead. The faster I hiked the more the sun stayed above the peaks so that was my motivation! Once at the top, I missed the actual sun being in the sky by about five minutes, but the lighting was still great and the towers were so so incredible.

Los Torres

So gorgeous with the sun still on the left rocks:

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You can tell by my face how cold it was up there!

The Towers of Patagonia

It’s a sight that is not done justice by photos. I’d seen pictures before and honestly didn’t find them too impressive so I was blown away when I got to the top! The lake was so green, and the rock of the towers so sheer leading down to the water. The rock has these black striations running through it that add to the visual texture. It snowed a few flakes on us while up there, so the sunny weather did not translate into warmth. After a few photos we headed back down and collapsed for a few in my tent before cooking our last dinner and head into our final day of hiking.

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