Puerto Natales, Chile


I start this with a pointless rambling because I had way too much time to think while hiking in the Chilean mountains and besides it´s kind of relevant. We knew of an optional activity down in Chile that we would have the chance to do called the ´W´ walk in Torres del Paine National park. Essentially a 64km hike that takes in awesome scenery and involves three nights of camping and three days of lugging all your gear around with you. One of the chaps on our truck wanted to go a bit further and instead of visiting a glacier view point on the last day, he wanted to hike further and camp next to it. A few more of us decided this would be a good idea and offered something of a personal challenge as the total hike would be 84km (50miles) in three days and so that’s what we did. On the ego side of things, I don´t think any of us saw it as a race but more of a personal challenge and about seeing how far we could push ourselves. I have certainly never done anything like it before and if I hadn´t had the confidence to push myself than I wouldn´t have completed it. Hence ego can be good sometimes if it´s in aid of your own challenges and doesn´t impede others or put yourself too far over the line.

So, day one was a doddle compared to the others. We started at 3pm and hiked 6km to our first campsite which was below the Torres towers, one of the major attractions of the hike and, park. Pete (my hiking wingman) and I hiked up to the towers that evening so we knew what we were facing on day 2 as sunrise is supposed to be epic at the towers. It’s worth noting now that we lived on a diet of pasta, rice, tuna, chocolate and biscuits for the whole trek. Water we drank directly from the streams that were fed by melting snow and glaciers, it was delicious!

Day 2 was a massive day which we knew it would be, having 35km to smash out if we were to camp at Greys glacier on the last night. We were up at 4.15am to hike the half hour up to the towers. It was bloody freezing but we did get a general idea of what sun rise looks like at the towers before it got a bit cloudy. As you will see by the pictures they just light up in a magnificent orange glow. We hiked down, packed up, had breakfast and hiked the rest of the day finishing around 5pm absolutely exhausted and in bed by 8pm. I was also by then carrying a blister that was so bad even the blister had a blister!

Day 3 was set to be another big day with a 27km hike to our camp at Greys glacier only the camp was closed. We therefore decided to hike to the closer camp 20km away and then hike a 20km return trip up to the edge of the glacier and back which was a big ask but would have been easier as we would have left our gear at camp. However, we got to camp and called it a day! We arrived at lunch time and got our tent up just before the rain set in for the afternoon. So a combination of wet weather, sore limbs and a beasty blister put an early end to our mega W walk hike not to mention we had to hike back 11km the next day to catch a ferry.

Day 4 continued the wet weather theme not that we were too bothered as we had completed our trek of 74km (45miles) in approximately 67 hours which we were pretty chuffed about. It was a fantastic thing to do and yes we could have taken our time and not done an extra 10km but in my little world I didn´t see the point. I saw everything we set out to see and I well and truly found my limit which was kind of the point, for me anyway! I was definitely out of my comfort zone. The roast lamb and vegetables that we received on our return to camp and the truck were much welcomed! Next stop, the end of the world!

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