Trail running around Torres del Paine

Anna, Guillaume, Yannick, Jeremie and I started our Patagonian adventure at El Calafate (Argentina). From there we took a bus down to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. We ran on the full Circuit and the W trail of Torres Del Paine. Here is a summary of these amazing 4 days. #adventurelist

Torres del Paine, Patagonia (© P. Gatta)
Torres del Paine, Patagonia (© P. Gatta)

Day 1: Las Torres – Dickson: 33 km +1050m
We have been lucky to start the full circuit of Torres del Paine with strong winds but a clear sky. We left Las Torres refugio (hut) early in the morning, running on a nice trail in the forest.

Torres del Paine seen from Las Torres hut (© P. Gatta)
Torres del Paine seen from Las Torres hut (© P. Gatta)

The views going to Seron camp are amazing, with a mix of mountain, forest, flowers fields and colourful rivers. This side of the park is relatively sheltered from the Westerly wind and storms. That changed a bit when we crossed the first pass close to Lago Paine but here too, we could enjoy every minutes of the view. The landscape reminded us of Iceland and North of Sweden.

On the way to Dickson (© A. Gatta)
On the way to Dickson (© A. Gatta)

The trail was a bit muddy but easy and pleasant to run on. Dickson hut, our objective, is ideally placed nearby a lake, surrounded by a forest with massive granite faces in the background. Trying to stay fit for our next climbs, we managed to do our stretching and pull-ups before the rain.
In the evening we celebrated the Christmas eve dinner and went to bed not too late, knowing that the following day would be more challenging. The plan was to cross the John Garner pass with an interesting weather forecast: 110km of wind and 30cm of snow…!

Arriving to Dickson hut (© P. Gatta)
Arriving to Dickson hut (© P. Gatta)

Day 2: Dickson – Paine Grande: 42 km +2550m
The weather forecast was right, it was raining hard when we woke up. The first part of the trail to Los Perros camp was very muddy but at least the forest sheltered us from the wind. Above the camp, we tried to avoid hidden small rivers covered by the snow but we all got wet feet… The rain from before had also wet all our gloves… The wind and the snow storm became stronger and stronger. Just below the top of the pass, we started having difficulties moving forward and the snow hit us so hard that it was like needles in our faces. When we reached the top of John Garner pass, the highest point of the Circuit (1200m) the wind was, as forecasted, 110 km/h! We got knocked out by the strongest gusts and even though we forced with the poles we stood still and was unable to move. The jacket and glasses covered by ice, we struggled to stay on the trail.

John Gardner Pass (© P. Gatta)
John Gardner Pass (© P. Gatta)

Some other trekkers hid behind stone boulders but we knew we had to get out of there as fast as possible. The wind got slightly less violent as soon as we got down around hundred meters on the other side but we broke two poles running downhill. We were happy to finally reach the forest for a new mud feast. As a reward after the struggle crossing the pass we got the view over the Grey glacier falling in the lake – it’s amazing.

Anna and Yannick with Grey Glacier behind (© P. Gatta)
Anna and Yannick with Grey Glacier behind (© P. Gatta)

We passed the Grey refugio and continued to the Paine Grande refugio. There was a big contrast of the crowded and noisy Paine Grande refugio and the remoteness of some other sections. Anyway, we enjoyed its food, hot showers and view over the Lago Grey.


Jeremie’s video of the Garner pass

Day 3: Paine Grande – Chileno: 31 km +1650m
Rain pouring down. But hey – this is Patagonia. We started the day with our complete GoreTex costumes once again Jeremie had ache in his knee and decided to walk the whole day and everyone but Philippe decided against going up the Valle del Franc√©s due to the weather not giving you any views anyway. Philippe was though, stopped by a park guardian after 3 km due to too bad weather… But hey – this is Patagonia. Despite the day being awfully grey and rainy not letting us see the Cuernos, we had fantastic scenery and was even running on a pebbled beach next to Lago Nordernskjold. The path was extremely muddy and was more or less transformed to rivers when steep.

Lake and stormy sky (© P. Gatta)
Lake and stormy sky (© P. Gatta)

Just before arriving to Las Torres where we had started, we turned up in the Valle Ascencio that is part of the trail route “W”. The sun came out just before the arrival and in the mid-afternoon we had all arrived to the Chileno Refugio happy and hungry. The Torres del Paine showed up in the horizon and hey – Patagonia has some great weather as well!

Cool thing is that Guillaume, with no trail running experience, has gotten completely hooked on trail running and is having loads of fun! Jeremie enjoys enormously the trail though the knee hurts and Yannick is going strong as always and charms all ladies with his blond head! Philippe and I have enough of energy left after the Great Himalaya Trail and we take great pleasure of sharing the trail running with the guys. Patagonia is absolutely a destination to put on your adventure list.

Los Cuernos (© P. Gatta)
Los Cuernos (© P. Gatta)

Day 4: Chileno – Las Torres: 15 km +850m
Finally a day with more or less great weather! We all went up to the lake by Mirador de Torres del Paine just an hour above Refugio Chileno. The Torres didn’t show up completely but the view is stunning anyway. We went back to have lunch at the Refugio before heading down back to our start of the trail, Las Torres. The sun was burning and we got a happy ending of our quite strenuous trail after all and we ticked “trail running in Patagonia” off our #adventurelist

Anna and Philippe with Los Torres behind (© P. Gatta)
Anna and Philippe with Los Torres behind (© P. Gatta)

The team on the way back to Los Torres (© A. Gatta)
The team on the way back to Los Torres (© A. Gatta)

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