Day 36: Camp Los Cuernos to Valley Francais to Paine Grande Camp (Torres del Paine, Chile)

Wednesday, January 31st 2018

Todays itinerary from Fantastico sur:

Day 4: Trekking to The French Valley (10-12 hours; 25.3 km; Diffcult)

We recommend waking up early this morning starting off around 08:00 am. Get ready for a long day of scenic ups and downs. Hike for 2 hours along a rolling trail until “Campamento Italiano”, with picturesque views of Nordenskjöld Lake. At this point, we recommend you to leave your big backpack with CONAF staff and continue on with a small day backpack, as you will be passing by Campamento Italiano again this afternoon. From here, the ascent goes for about one hour and a half until the French Glacier lookout, from where you will be able to see its hanging glacier and possibly some small avalanches. The trail continues until “Campamento Britannico”, which is considered by many as one of the most overwhelming points in the Circuit. From there you can admire panoramic views of the valley with its breathtaking mountains; “Paine Grande”, “Cerro Hoja”, “Cerro Mascara”, “Cerro Catedral”, “Cerro Aleta de Tiburon” and “Cuerno Norte”. You will return back to Campamento Italiano along the same path, and then go until the Pehoe sector, with wonderful views of Lake Pehoe and Paine Grande.

Overnight at Refugio Paine Grande OR Camping Paine Grande depending on package.

Today is the hardest walking day of the Torres del Paine W-Trek. We will walk up the French Valley and do a little bit over 1000 meters elevation. Some girls in the camp, where we have slept, have been up in the French Valley yesterday. The had strong wind gasts, snowfall and no view to French Glacier. In the end they walked up to Mirador Britannico (the british viewpoint) and didnot see anything there, too, because of the cloud coverage.

So, we get up early and encounter ‘Alpenglühen’ (alpine glowing = morning light on the rocks) right above our tents place.

The night it was raining, the tents are still wet. We leave our cozy tent:

We start walking in the sun under rainbows:

Rainbows get stronger, winds too.

So come the clouds:

We reach Camp Italiano and leave our heavy backpacks there (locked and locked together with a velolock). Anyway, lots of backpacks are laid on the ground there, made as rainproof as possible (ours are blue deuter packs) and wait for there carriers to come back from Valley Frances. The National Park guards are not really looking for it.

Up we go.

It is quite a climb up.

Finally we reach Mirador Britannico. Somehow the elevation differs between what the Chilenos measure and my barometric Fenix 3. We get out our lunch packages and make lunch break up there. It is windy and fresh, but not so cold. Good luck we had no snowfall. The path is rocky and slippery, when wet.

After late lunch we go down again …

Down is quicker than up. Our packs are still at Camp Italiano, we take them and leave. Good luck the weather forecast was not true and good luck, they didnot close Frances Valley (they often do, if there is weather risk, that starts at windspeed of 60 km/h).

We go for torres grande:

There we hand over one voucher, get 4. It is the dirtiest campsite, tents dirty, matresses dirty, toilets dirty, “warm” shower (3 for approx 100 men). We take it as survival training. Last night in a tent.

Todays walk:

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