This is post 4 in a series of a 7 day/6 night guided hike in Torres del Paine National Park with Dittmar Adventures. We followed the modified O Trek which connects camps Japones and Dickson over the Oggioni Pass. As this part of the trail is not marked, it can be only done with a guide. If you are looking for something a little more challenging with fewer trekkers and spectacular views this may be the route for you.
Day 4 – Camp Los Perros to Refugio Grey via Gardner Pass
Total Distance: 22 kilometers/13.7 miles
Average Time: 11 hours
A clear morning starts another long day. I go into the cooking/dining room to grab our backpacks before breakfast. The place is hopping at 6 a.m., busier than at dinner the evening before or at 6:30 when I returned for breakfast. By 7 a.m. the camp is nearly empty.
Nico’s breakfast is the same as before, French press coffee, oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts followed by tortilla rolls filled with cheese and ham.
The morning starts back in the muddy forest. According to Carlos this section is always muddy. Mud held together by a web of fallen branches and tree roots with pools of water in between.
Once out of the woods the landscape opens up with a clear view of the pass. It’s one of those climbs that doesn’t look so bad from below but ends up being much longer, always more to go.
Great views of a small glacier to the right.
The clouds begin to close in behind us and spit.
Creeks run down the mountain side. The way is steep through stones but at least it’s a trail and not just an idea.
Just over the ridge is our first sight of Grey Glacier, a river of ice through a valley with snowy peaks beyond. The clouds, layers of gray, blue and white above the ice blue glacier. From here the trail would run along the glacier for most of the day. The face of the glacier doesn’t look that far away but it took most of the day to reach it.
We start the descent and enter the forest. First it’s a steep decline through the forest with more mud and tree roots at our feet and glimpses of the glacier through the trees. The steep decline turns into rolling Patagonia flat.
3 hours from the top of the pass we reach Camp Paso, a free campground with basic camp sites set in the trees. If you are stopping for a break it’s much nicer a short ways up the trail from here with beautiful open views of the glacier.
Soon the trail emerges from trees and runs along the cliff side with open views of the glacier, an immense wide river of ice that flows down the valley with snowy peaks beyond. As you get closer the icy blue crevices become more distinct.
Along the open section, remnants of a fire from around 100 years ago, begins a series of suspension bridges. New bridges with great views of the high peaks on one side and the glacier on the other.
There is one last steep climb along the open cliff side before the trail plunges back into the forest, the prettiest of the day. Open forest with large beach trees glowing in the late afternoon sun. From here it’s a gentler walk to Refugio Grey.
Refugio Grey, much larger than Dickson, is a tent city with a party going on in the dining room and bar. Guests sit on Adirondack chairs, sip wine and pick at a snack of peanuts, cheese and figs on the patio with views of the evening sun on the mountain face. All very civilized compared to the rough conditions of the last three days.
Due to 2 cancellations from the tour company and 2 beds available for purchase, we got the same deal as at Dickson – beds at half price, 8,000CLP ($12.50)/person.
The 6 bed bunk room is larger than at Dickson and sleeps 6 reasonably comfortably with enough space for gear.
Showers at the refugio are hot only and run scalding to tolerable. The bathroom has 3 stalls for showers and 3 for toilets and was very clean until someone dragged their muddy bag through the room.
Dinner is served quickly and efficiently. Non-descript soup (turned out to be asparagus) followed by chupe de mariscos, a creamy fish stew served with rice. It was either quite good or we were very hungry or both. Yogurt moose with calafate and murtilla (wild berries) for dessert.
After dinner the party continues in the bar and lounge. Ear plugs are available in a candy dish at reception.
February 16, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the Hiking in Patagonia page.