Trekking the W

A world class 4-5 days hike

Hiking the W can pose some logistical challenges, especially if your time is limited (4 days and a few hours) and you absolutely want to catch the 1:30PM ferry from Refugio Grey back to Hostería Lago Grey – it gets very close to Glacier Grey allowing for some stunning pictures. We had to hike East to West. We had to be back at Hostería Las Torres on Wednesday March 12 to make sure we would catch our flight in Punta Arenas. We could start late afternoon on Saturday March 8. And we wanted to see everything. And always book early!!!

Elevation: +430m (-150m); Distance: 8.7km (2.5h); Mostly sunny to snowy

We left Hostería Las Torres at 4:30PM, our belly full with a last minute pizza and a beer and started to hike to Torres Camp site. This was the most difficult hike, because we had to carry our heavy backpacks on fairly steep slope. We reached the campsite around 6PM when it started snowing. It snowed all night, wished I had a proper sleeping bag. I had strange thoughts that night, shivering with all my clothes on not knowing if I would wake up after falling asleep.

Elevation: -500m (+750m); Distance: 21.3km (6.5h); Overcast to sunny

The day started with a steep ascent to Mirador Las Torres, leaving the campsite at 6:40AM. We had heard about spectacular sunrises on the towers who get lit with purple light but only last a minute. We missed it by a minute. 35 minutes for a very steep 500m ascent on a snowy trail wasn’t enough! We hiked back down, packed up ou tent and bags and left for Refugio Cuernos. Some say you can have 4 seasons in a day in Patagonia. Well, we clearly went from winter to summer in less than 2 hours. This day hike was absolutely spectacular with memorable scenery of forests, emerald lakes and mountains. We reached our destination around 5PM and had plenty of time to admire the Cuernos.

Elevation: -50m (+450m); Distance: 24.1km (7.5h); Rainy to overcast

After another night under difficult weather conditions, we were procrastinating our departure, scared of the rain when we met an incredible group of elderly carrying backpacks normally held by sherpas. They were finishing their 9 days trek on the big loop and clearly were not bothered by the rain. We had to go! A rumour was circulating that the French Valley was closed due to the difficult weather conditions. Before reaching Italiano, a very strong storm like noise forced us to halt only to witness a massive avalanche falling down from Glaciar Del Frances into the French Valley. Regardless of whether the trail was opened or not, being safety conscious, we made the choice of hiking to Refugio Grey instead. Thankfully the weather was starting to turn, the rained had stoped and we could enjoy our hike with amazing views along Lago Skottsberg and Lago Grey.

 

Elevation: 0m (+150m); Distance: 6km (2.5h); Rainy to snowy

As a direct consequence to a closed French Valley, we arrive in Refugio Grey a day earlier than anticipated. Spending two night in the Refugio was not bad at all because we could spend the time exploring the area around the Glaciar Grey. The weather was terrible but we didn’t have to carry a backpack making our small hike quite enjoyable, and spectacular at times.

Mostly sunny.

Our hike was over, we took the boat back to Hosteria Lago Grey, with a fantastic detour alongside the glacier. Our cruise was followed by 4 shuttles buses on our way back to Hosteria Las Torres. Actually it ended up being 5 shuttles because one bus broke down along the shores of Lago Pehoe.

 

  • Scenery 100%
  • Difficulty 60%
  • Amneties 80%
  • Transportation 75%
  • Cost 40%

Hiking the W

Day-1

Hiking the Torres

Day-2

Hiking the W

Day-3

Hiking The W

Day-4

 

Lupines

Wild flowers of Torres del Paine, commonly found in wet fields

Mirador Grey

A first glimpse at Glacier Grey and the Patagonian ice field.

Los Cuernos

Cliffs lit with mid day light filtered by fast moving clouds

The Lone Tree

Seclusive beach in Refugio Los Cuernos (Lago Nordenskjold)

Los Cuernos

The Miocene granite pluton exposing Cretaceous sandstones

Bridge Crossing

A suspension bridge on the trail from Las Torres to Los Cuernos

Las Torres

“Summer” shot of Las Torres, early in the morning