trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles
I was up early and continued along the river another hour or so to reach the campground before everyone else had left.
On inspection, I was happy NOT to have slept at my assigned campground. The toilet is hideous, for one thing.
In excellent visibility I could make out the trail heading up and over the pass centre right. In poor visibility it could be difficult to find.
Old and wiserish, I followed a group to the first Tyrolean Traverse.
Then watched carefully as the guide showed his 3 clients how to do it. I hadn’t done one of these in decades.
It actually screwed up for this girl. The small rope used to pull back the pulley got tangled. The guide earned his money — and impressed me — by sliding over on the cable using his emergency back-up carabiner … and got her untangled.
It went fairly well for me, though I was very tired by the end.
We wore our packs, but it would probably be smarter to tow the backpack like this guy.
Here’s the gap crossed from above.
Actually, you can often wade the river instead. AND it looked to me that you could go around the lake to the left avoiding the crossing completely.
From here the views were spectacular. This was easily my favourite day.
I stayed close to Glacier Río Túnel because it was so cool.
In Patagonia people pay a lot of money to walk glaciers. And have a shot of whisky.
My map showed this campground at the end of Glaciar Río Túnel Inferior. Sounds like it is no longer legal to tent here, however.
The guide had taken his clients up high immediately after the Tyrolean. Eventually I was forced to scramble up the loose moraine scree to catch up.
It was work. But with great views.
From here in good weather it looked an easy up-and-over.
Not so. It seemed to take forever to reach Windy Pass (Paso de Viento).
But the astonishing first vista on to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field was the highlight of the entire hike.
Though a bit windy, I stayed quite a while at the top. I tried to recall any hiking vista that impressed me more. Anywhere.
Travel 2 Walk compares this with the Paso John Gardner looking on to Glacier Grey in Paine. I concur that Windy Pass is even more impressive.
From the pass it’s a long but comparatively easy descent down to the moraine wall. There’s no real trail, but you can’t get lost.
I decided to stay at the assigned bleak Paso del Viento Refuge and Campground as I wasn’t sure I could find better protection from the wind anywhere else.
The building is mainly used for cooking / eating. You’d only sleep inside in terrible weather. But it does seem to have wifi. 😀
My biggest problem hiking over the years have been my feet.
Yet despite appearances, they are almost zero problem for me now. I’ve got them figured out. I wear the over-sized very wide shoes (for the bunions). Apply petroleum jelly each morning. And wear neoprene booties instead of socks on wet trails like these.
Here’s my tent site selected for wind protection.
Since I was carrying a climbing harness, I used it as a tie-down, as well.
Travel 2 Walk calculated 3055 ft ascent and 2214 ft descent on the day. Only 7.8 miles, but slow. Tough. And with PLENTY of photo stops.
Tired, I fell asleep by accident after dinner and wine. And therefore kept my food in the tent.
No mice this night.