When: 09-Apr-2019

Summary

  • Section: Camp El Paso – Camp Grey
  • Distance: 7km
  • Duration: 3.5h, including breaks at the first and last mirador
  • Steep but short ups and downs within the first few kilometers.
  • For the rest of this day’s track it's downhill, loosing 350m in elevation.
  • The track follows along the last bit of the Grey glacier and the Grey lake all the way to camp.
  • If weather permits, mesmerising views are guaranteed.
  • 2 suspension bridges give the track a bit of extra kick.
  • This section is well-marked and crowded.
  • Camp Grey is fully equipped with hot showers, bathrooms, indoor kitchen, a (quite fancy) restaurant, a shop. There’s a shelf with camping and food items left behind by hikers, such as unfinished gas bottles, in the kitchen. We made use of this as we weren’t sure if ours were going to last.

Difficulty Rating

Below is my personal grading of the track including some key points. Check out the intro page to the SB scale here if you want to know how I do the rating.
The overall difficulty rating for this track is (with 10 being the hardest): 3 / 10
This is made up of the following categories:

Category A: General - 3 / 10

Distance: 7km
Duration: 3.5h
Elevation gain/loss: steep decline of 350m in elevation

Category B: Terrain - 4 / 10

The steep downhill part can be heavy on the knees. It was for me with the heavy backpack on my back.
Other than that it’s a nice path, a bit rocky here and there.
You walk along the Grey glacier all day, so stunning views the entire time.
The last bits up to camp Grey go through forest.

Category C: Weather - 1 / 10

The weather was awesome.
Very sunny. Little wind. Clouds only around the mountains. Not too cold.

Category D: Special Conditions - 3 / 10

Feeling the weight of my backpack a bit more today due to the steep downhill.

Category E: Individual Condition - 4 / 10

I generally feel fit and happy.
But despite this it's the first day I start feeling a bit undernourished. Christian and I estimated a certain amount of snacks for the both of us which we share each day.
I feel hungry most of the time. Darryn starts sharing his snacks with me since he barely eats any of his.
Also with the end of this day I feel the weight of the backpack on my knees. Despite the short trek, my body seems more exhausted than it should be.

My Experience

Before going to bed the previous night, we're hanging up all our stuff. The main concern was for it not to get wet. The kitchen area at Camp El Paso is only a little half open shelter. The ground was really muddy and full of little puddles from the rain.

As we come into the kitchen, we are welcomed by a bit of a chaos this morning. One or more crazy mice found their way into Christian’s bag, ate some of our food and bit a hole into his emergency coke. A coca cola he brought with him for the kind of day when energy is low and he needs fast sugar. His backpack is flooded with it now. We have a little cleaning session before making breakfast. It’s a difficult decision but we decide to throw away the parts of our food that were hit the hardest.

Usually we wouldn’t be so picky and just eat the food despite the bites. But there’s been cases of Hantavirus in Patagonia in the past. The virus can also be transmitted via mouse saliva. We don’t want to take a chance.

Some of our snacks and a bit of the breakfast oat mix were hit hardest. Luckily, Darryn has an abundance of snacks that he planned for each day but has barely touched. Good for me, as I start feeling a bit undernourished, though I’m not aware of it at that point. I just feel more exhausted than I probably should. Also, despite really big dinners, I wake up super hungry in the mornings. Darryn gives me a snickers for this day. But I will eventually end up eating over half his trekking snacks within the next days. When I compare the amount he eats to what Christian and, specifically I, eat daily, I seriously wonder how he keeps his engine running with that little fuel.

 

 

After the little unexpected morning entertainment, we are off and head for the mirador (Spanish for viewpoint) that is close by and on the way to the Grey camp. We went there the night before already. The views are mesmerising. The track follows along the edge of Lago Grey. We get beautiful views of the glacier and the mountains all day. Two longer suspension bridges make the track all the more interesting.

Patagonian weather has followed a pattern for us so far. 1-2: One nasty day followed by 2 nice days. Today is a really nice and sunny day.

Last night’s camp has been the most crowded for us up until now. We met 4 new hikers. What I find super interesting are the different trekking stories.

Darryn first met the 4 hikers from Paso at Dickson in his first night – while Christian and I were having the time of our lives in our emergency camp.

One of the 4 started trekking a day prior to us but decided to not give a shit about the closed Séron camp and camped there in his first night. Something we should’ve done also, I was thinking, when he told us.

The other 3 started trekking the same day we did but heading off earlier. So did Darryn. He started hiking around 5am. The bad weather of that day kicked in when he was “only” a couple hours away from Dickson.

The 2 hikers who arrived after us at Dickson started the trek on our second day but took a rest day at Dickson and are taking one at Grey, too. We will meet them again later tonight. They do big distance tracks with rest days in between.

There’s a few ways to do the O-Circuit. Something to keep in mind in case you plan to do this track some day.

 

 

The track towards Camp Grey becomes more and more crowded the closer we get to it. Torres del Paine is very popular for the W-Trek and its day hikes to the viewpoints of the Grey glacier. Grey camp is part of the W-Trek. It’s a little culture shock when we arrive at camp later. We actually need to look for a nice camping spot because it’s quite crowded.

Just before this camp there’s another viewpoint. It’s a little detour worth taking.

The three of us decide to get a Pisco bottle from the fancy restaurant at the camp and drink to the past days. I mention this specifically because it will totally kick my ass next day. Another future-self-would-love-to-pinch-past-self moment.

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