The Towers at Sunrise - Torres del Paine
The towers that the park are named for are the main attraction of Torres del Paine National Park. We left the Chileno Refugio at 3AM to make the two hour hike to the towers. The trek was a modest incline for the first hour or so over very clear terrain. No major rocks, roots or stream crossings to contend with. The last half of the trek is a very steep climb up a well marked trail built over boulders. No need to go to the gym on this morning. You get a good work out well before the sun comes up!
We were very lucky to have such a good day to see the towers. So many of the photos I have seen have the towers partially or fully obstructed by cloud. Poor weather could also make the final part of the trek very trecherous. There were at least a hundred people gathered to see the sunrise - most who hiked only the last steep part from Camp Torres. The weather was cool but not horribly cold. Some people took sleeping bags to keep warm. I wasn't too cold - actually the climb up had overheated me and I really just needed something to keep the cool wind off me.
The towers are a 4-5 hour trek from the bus drop off near the hotel and Refugio Torres. Many people looked like they were hiking to the towers for the day - it would be a very difficult day, especially if the weather was hot (like on this day) or wet and cold. The hike from Refugio Torres to the Chileno Refugio is a long, slow incline. You can take horses for 100-150USD each direction. I think it is much more enjoyable to do the trip over two days so you can enjoy the scenary in the Valley of the Towers near Chileno and see a sunrise! If you reach the towers too late in the afternoon, the sun will be behind the towers.
The granite in the towers reflects the first light in the sunrise turning them into a bright red colour. You see this effect on the top of the towers. If there are low clouds diffusing the sunlight, the effect is lost. That is what happened here - as the sun rose, it started becoming diffused in clouds and a normal (but spectular) sunrise began.
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