(about 12km 5hr)
Supposed to be another long day of hiking for us, but there was a short cut midway through which bypassed the route to Hotel Las Torres. It was another beautiful day for hiking, we had the mountains on our left and open shrublands to our right.
One of the last waterfall before the shortcut junction
Flat open grasslands before Valle Ascencio
It becomes more challenging when we enter the Valle Ascencio. Narrow trail curves in & out along the scree with Rio Ascensio deep below. The winds also began to blow stronger during the hot afternoon – I was extremely thankful for my pair of walking sticks to keep my balance on this tricky section. Any slip and it will be a nasty fall downhill with not much to break the momentum.
View of Valle del Frances
Overwhelming feeling of gladness overtook my body when I finally saw the signs of civilization again. It wasn’t long before I reach Campamento Chileno for a well deserved rest after the punishing walk. My knees were aching from having to brace on the uneven trail.
Good timing too, as I was down to my last sips of water. We have been blessed with many natural springs for the past 4 days to refill, that we took for granted there will be water points during the hike today. No refill spots after short cut, and weather was hot & dry.
We originally planned to camp further up at Campamento Torres, another 3km or 1.5hr walk uphill. The higher position will give us an earlier start to watch the sunrise at the base of the towers. However we decided to pitch camp at Campamento Chileno, because of the sign that upper camp was closed for the season and we were quite drained to climb ahead with our packs.
Tiered platforms for tents at Campamento Chileno.
After setting up camp, I went with just another team mate to the final viewpoint at Base de Las Torres. Alas the fine weather we had been experiencing for the past 4 days did not hold and it began to shower lightly during our final ascent. The final 1km 1 hour scramble up over rocks became more challenging because of the rain and light fog.
When we finally arrive, the iconic towers were partly hidden behind clouds. We stayed on as long as we could, with hopes that the weather would clear. No such luck and we had to turn back when it became unbearably cold.
Foggy view at Base de Las Torres
Mood at Campamento Chileno was sombre as many hikers were dampened from the rain and disheartened to learn that the higher Campamento Torres was actually open for its last day. Probably a sly plot by the Chileno camp managers to earn extra camping fees, since it was free camping further up. Luckily we brought just enough cash to pay for the night’s camping.
Anyway, it was welcoming to have a hot shower after the wet hike up to the base. The shared cooking area was probably the smallest amongst the four proper campsites we had. So dinner was much later than usual, but we shared our table with 3 other bubbly girls who were just doing the 2days Valle Ascencio hike.
Shared dining table with 2 local girls with their Japanese friend inside the cramped cooking hut