In Torres del Paine the W trek is the classic route that many people choose to hike, and it takes you to three magnificent valleys: the Ascencio, the Frances and the Grey. For more experienced hikers there are actually a number of different routes including the Paine Circuit and others that take you off the beaten track and allow you to see another side to the park. On my recent trip to Torres del Paine I wanted to see these routes that I hadn’t seen before. Read here about my first trek: a foray up to the Oggioni pass.
The second route was the Bader valley, a small valley that most hikers walk as a straight path. The turnoff isn’t obvious and it slices into the range between the Cuernos and the Torres giving you an extraordinary close up of the Cuernos and a different view of the south tower. We took some camping kit and spent a day hanging out at the climber’s camp there.
When you wander from the Ascencio valley to refugio Cuernos you’d never notice the Bader valley or the path that takes you there.
But a teeny tiny path heads right at the Cuernos. Snow had fallen in the night and the Cuernos were white with a light dusting.
As we climbed, the Nordenskjold lake lay below us …
…the fresh snow made the going tough at times.
…until our necks had to strain upwards to see them.
In a small thicket of trees we pitched our tents…
…and continued up the valley with just the lids of our rucksacks.
The path stops at the camp, so to continue onwards we hopped from rock to rock which was made tricky by the fresh snow.
We continued to marvel at the Cuernos ( I really am obsessed with these fellas) as they changed shape and size. My guide Justin traced mental climbing routes up them with his eyes
A toothy ridge of pinnacles played in and out of the clouds up ahead, and the wind started to build.
The snow, boulders and wind made for slow going so we decided to leave exploration for the morning when better weather was forecast.
Bader camp is a climber’s camp with no facilities; it’s just a shelter made from branches, tarpaulins and string. A shovel for digging cat hole toilets hangs from a tree trunk in the centre of the shelter.
We prepare and consume an enormous pot of lentils and pre-cooked pork with enough garlic to keep the vampires away.
After a 12 hour sleep we wake to the roaring of the wind in the trees. The wind is so strong that we can’t walk in a straight line, it is certainly not great for boulder hopping. So we pack up camp and head down.
Check out those squalls on Lago Nordenskjold!
There are beautiful blue skies and the Cuernos look spectacular…
…as we descend with legs braced against the wind.
If you want to know more about Paine’s hidden valley, get in touch.