Thursday, January 21, 2010

Patagonian Marathon: A Wet and Wild Tour of Torres del Paine

Now with our basecamp moved down to Campamento Torres, we have a lot more to occupy ouselves with during the long days spent waiting for our weather window. Our favorite pastimes include vicious slander, runs up to the Mirador, weather speculation, pull-up contests and practicing my horrible version of Spanish in the park ranger´s hut. Very much unlike Yosemite, the rangers here are way cool, and are always willing to help you out and give you a hot drink and a place to warm up.
But even all that will still lead to the inevitable cabin fever all too common in these parts. So Josh decided that he was going to run the Torres Circuit in a push. It takes normal people 7-10 days. It´s like 55-60 miles. No way am I doing that, I said. My knees are worth more that.
Well, stupid ideas tend to breed more stupid ideas, so within hours I was planning my own enduro-hike, which would not require as much mileage, but would take me on a sweet loop touring the frontside of the park.

Ascensio Valley

I left the cave at 5:15 am and started my stop watch at the edge of Torres Camp at 5:30. The early morning hike/run down the Ascensio Valley was rad. I was on the trail for about 4 hours before running into anybody else. The temps were cool, and I was comfortable in shorts.

Early morning atLago Nordenskjold

Morning light hits the Cuernos

Taking a couple short breaks at Campamento Cuernos and Italiano for food and stretching, I was well ahead of the time benchmarks I had set for myself, and after Italiano the terrain flattened out considerably. Near to Lago Pehoe, however, the weather closed in hard. The wind, which had been ever present but thus far benign, began picking up the water off the lake and hurling it sideways.

Patagonia or Serengeti?

I continued through this crap for another mind-altering 17 km to my end point at the Administration office at Lago Toro. I was wet. From here I waiting for the bus and caught a ride back into town to dry out.
My total point to point time was 10.5 hours over 29.5 miles (47.5 km). Josh crushed the full circuit in 17.5 hours. I said it before and I´ll say it again- running is stupid, unless you´re getting chased by a bear.

Basecamp Antics

In the long weeks since anything resembling climbing here in Puta-gonia, we have made numerous trips up and down the Ascensio and Silencio Valleys, restocking food, retreating to town, and making half-hearted attempts on the Towers which never seem to be in condition.
Highlights have been New Year´s on the beach in Japones (before the Pisco got the better of us), baseball, and the 5 person frozen bivy in the Bonington Cave.

Batter up! Home run derby.

Wu Tang Clan ain´t nothin to f**k with!

La Peineta. Seen better days.

With the recent spike in temperature and precipitation, Japones came very close to flooding, and Josh and I were both pretty sure the river was going to break the banks and wash us downstream! So after another failed attempt (if you could even call it that) on the ├╝ber-rimed out Peineta, we took our tents down and moved all our stuff back down valley and have taken up a new residence in the Italian cave near Campamento Torres. This means we are a bit farther away, but means there is a lot more to do when we are just sitting around on our thumbs waiting for that perfect window.

It looks like this for about 12 hours a month.