Torres del Paine
Trek to the Base of the Towers

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To see the towers up close, a popular goal, one must trek into the massif a total of about seven miles each way, much of it uphill on steep inclines and, for the final push, up a 45-degree, 900-or-so-foot mound of glacial moraine: dangerous rocks, boulders and pebbles. The total elevation gain is some 3-4,000 feet and the journey can take anywhere from 6-12 hours depending on your pace (or you can camp out). But the the reward, above, is one of the most spectacular views on the planet: an alien landscape of rock, glacial water and ice. The trek itself provides sweeping views across deep valleys as far as the main spine of the Andes, from a trail that drops off sharply on one side and ascends just as fast on the other. As you start out you rise quickly on switchbacks and then follow a narrow up and down path to the half-way point at Refugio Chileno. The second half takes you along the river, through lush freen beech forest, up and down again, until you arrive at the morraine for the final push. And when you finally get there, while you try to comprehend your size and place in the universe, you must try and remember that you still have to go back.

Page: 1   2   3 (the towers)   

We start near beginning of the trailhead with a morning shower and rainbow:
As we start out, the slope is gentle:
Looking back and across to the main Andean spine as we gain altitude:
The trail continues its sharp ascent before leveling off 2-3,000 feet up:
The narrow & tricky patch looking towards Chileno refuge in the distance:
The Chileno refuge is one camp site, and is as far as you may go on horseback if you choose this route. From here, the towers themselves peek into view behind the mountain. Locals wear traditional costume to greet guests:
The overall view from Chileno:
Go to page 2: Through the enchanted forest