Saturday 22 April 2006

Episode 2. Torres del Paine Day 7 'The Final Push'

0700hrs Sir Guestie's solo British Expeditionary Force in Argentina (and Chile) sets out into the snow to make the final ascent to the base of the Torres del Paine, to see the famous view for real. Overnight, the weather conditions were adverse. Pitched near a rushing river, at times the sound of the cascade was inaudible due to the power of the wind ripping over the top of the ridge and rushing through the trees. It is easily below freezing now and just outside the campsite, snow lies on the ground.

Wearing 4 layers, hat and gloves, carrying a camera tucked inside my waterproof jacket, I set down the first footsteps of the morning into the snow. The ascent steepens, the boulders grow larger and the track disappears. Under about 10 cms of snow, the waymarkings are invisible. I make a point of brushing them down, when I find them.

The wind is stiffer further up, the snow coming down harder. Visibility zero. My footsteps are filling in fast. I don't like the look of it. Near the top, I call it a day. I can't see anything and I don't like the idea of slipping and nobody finding me very soon - I don't expect anyone else to have a go today.

I decamp and descend into the gorgeous valley below. The weather, I see, is clearing further down. By the time I reach the bottom, I'm in shorts and t-shirt. A Swiss German, who followed my footprints an hour later comes down and shows me the great pics he'd got. I feel robbed.

I met with James and Nicky and we arranged to go out for drinks and dinner. TdP D8 is cancelled. Campamento Japon├ęs, the entry point for the Valle del Silencio, a little further on from Camp. Torres where I spent last night, was cut off due to snow. A great week in the Park but plenty of reasons to return:
  1. the circuito grande
  2. Paso John Garner
  3. A decent view of the Glaciar Grey in sunlight from above
  4. A clear view from the base of the Torres
  5. El Valle del Silencio