Patagonia, Chile

We didn’t finish the circuit, because the bad weather caused us to lose days. But I think we saw the best of Torres.
The previous day’s ordeal was worth it. Totally worth it. Missing the views of Glacier Grey on the last day would have been heartbreaking.
12km “What are the chances of El Paso being open for hiking today?” I said to Simon as we woke in the tent after a night of torrential rain. “I give it 30%”, I surmised before he could answer. Outside in the campsite, it was snowing. Surely the mountain would be covered in the stuff, at least four feet deep. The three of us lay in our sleeping bags with significant doubts that there would be any trekking that day.
8.7km On Christmas day we were up at 4am, hoping to make it from the Dickson camp to the Los Perros camp in the morning, then tackle the hardest part of the hike, El Paso, in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the rain had set in, and we woke up to a soaking campsite in Dickson and had to pack up and set off in the rain. The one really difficult part of the Torres del Paine is known as “The Pass”, or El Paso.
20km Christmas Eve was another long and beautiful hike. We left Seron a little late but arrived at Refugio Dickson in good time. The turquoise lagoons framed by the mountains at the pass were awesome, but the wind was gale force. If it wasn’t for hiking poles, we would all have been blown clean over several times. The Dickson campsite was postcard-perfect, surrounded by the turquoise lake with jagged icy mountains in all directions.
24km Day 2 was long, as we were awake before sunrise to catch the glowing Torres. We also needed to get to the next campsite “Seron”, which mean we walked for about 13 hours. Far south in Patagonia, the sun is up until about 11:30pm and rises at 4am, so doing long hikes is less of an issue. It’s great having light to set up tents and cook food at the campsites at night.
10km Seven of us set off for the 7 day “O” circuit around Torres del Paine, one of the most famous treks in Patagonia. It was a (mostly) self-supported trek - we carried tents, sleeping bags, mats and food - but bought odds and ends from the refugios when needed. The Torres (towers) are large rock formations that jut out of the middle of the park. The first campsite we stayed at was about an hour from the lookout over the Torres, so we woke up before sunrise to get pictures of the rock glowing orange in the dawn light.