The Diary

25th December 2003 Christmas Day !!!

Waking up on Christmas Day the weather was dry and sunny, and after cooking up some breakfast, we opened the few presents we had and got ready for a couple of days walking away from the Weasel. The people who ran the campsite let us park up just outside their house, promising to keep an eye on the landy whilst we were away. If felt strange to think that we would not be sleeping in the roof-tent for a few nights. And Sue had got used to her convenient "kitchenette" out the back of the Weasel.

The trail up to the Torres starts off from the Hosteria Las Torres (just follow the signs). Eventually - after about 10 or 15 minutes - you come to a hanging bridge over the river Ascensio. We were roasting hot by this time and had to de-layer, especially when we saw the path ascending quite steeply, zigzagging towards the north end of the valley. It took us about an hour before the path started to level out. It is a good opportunity to rest here and get your breath back as you take in the views around. You can also see the Refugio Chileno from here together with its flag flapping away in the wind. It didn't look too far but it still took another 45 minutes to get there. The path descends for a bit, before you cross over a bridge and you are there.

The Refugio Chileno is the first refuge you come to where you can either camp or sleep under a comfortable roof. Our guidebook had warned about the refuge not being too clean, but we were hungry and decided to stop off for some lunch. Contrary to the guidebook's opinion, it was really friendly, welcoming and very clean. They were busy preparing a Christmas Day buffet for the evening but managed to rustle us up some turkey, potato salad and bread, and a hot cup of tea. We also took the opportunity to fill our sigg bottles with water as we weren't sure whether or not there would be any water available at the Campamento Torres. The campsite was close to the refuge itself and looked very sheltered under the cover of trees - important as it can get pretty windy up there.

Feeling well rested we then continued our walk along the river and up to our camp spot for the night - the Campamento Torres. There are no facilities as such - just a basic toilet. It is worth filling your water containers up at the Chilean Refuge as there is no clean water at the site. You would need to have a filter if you wanted to use the water from the nearby stream.

We chose our spot and pitched our rented tent. It was tiny and didn't look as if it would stand much wind and rain. Yet again we kicked ourselves for not bringing our sturdy Terra Nova tent from the UK. Our kitmats just fitted inside and there was no porch to cook under or put your sacks, but we would only be using it for a few nights and it did only cost $3 a night, so not bad.

Having pitched the tent we left most of our stuff behind and continued up to the Torres. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top and is quite a tough section. We were tired and the path got steeper until eventually you were just scrambling over rocks. But the views at the top are well worth the effort. After a few minutes we had the place to ourselves.

If you want to take good photos, the best time to go would be the morning. We were in the evening and the sun was setting behind the towers so they were in shadow. We contemplated coming up again in the morning - we would see how we felt! There was a small spot below the rocks where someone had obviously set up camp before and there were rocks piled up for shelter, so if you fancy dragging a tent etc up there, it would be a fantastic place to spend the night. If we had known we would probably have pitched up there.

We then headed back down feeling quite hungry. Dinner consisted of pasta and chilli (one of the Wayfarer packs) followed by custard and chocolate cake, all washed down with hot red wine (we had dragged a half bottle of wine up the mountain with us only to find we had forgotten the corkscrew. Luckily we got talking to some Norwegians and they obliged us with theirs!

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