Sep 18, 2013 at 8:11 am #1307764
Hey everyone. I am just about to start planning a trip to Torres Del Paine and am looking for some info. All the other threads were a couple of years older so I figured I'd start a new one. Since I am just getting started I don't have my full gear list planned out but had a couple questions as I started to think it out. I will be doing the full circuit over 10 days or so in the first two weeks of December.
1) I've read that some of the campsites have problems with mice. Is it worth it to bring my Ursack or could I maybe get away with just sleeping with my food or something else.
2)I've read all about the winds. Right now I only own a Rab Boreas. Will I be able to get by in that or should I go out and buy a real wind shirt? I know I could save a bunch of ounces but not sure if I want to spend the money.
3)Insulation. Right now I am choosing between a Down Mtn Hardware Ghost Whisperer Jacket or a Primaloft LL Bean Ascent Packaway Pullover. I am a little nervous about keeping the down dry over 10 days as this will be the longest trip I have been on. Any advice on synthetic vs. down for TDP?
4) Should I bring a fleece along with either the synthetic or down puffy? I'd have to go out and buy one but I was thinking if I brought the down jacket it might be worth it to have as back up.
5) Do I need to bring gaiters? I have full length outdoor research ones.
Thank in advance for the help. If anyone has any general advice about TDP, Puerto Natalaes or Punta Arenas. That would be great too. ThanksSep 18, 2013 at 8:27 am #2025769
I had no problems with mice (I kept food in my tent with me), but I also heard the stories. It's not that big a deal to bring the ursack, so I might if I were you. There are no real places to hang anything, so you don't really have any good options other than a rodent proof bag.
Yes, you want a real windshirt with a bit of DWR. It doesn't really RAIN per se, it's just awfully drizzly, which can easily turn to sleet. I used my marmot precip ALL the time and never regretted it, but this was before I discovered wind shirts. I have the boreas as well and I don't think it's enough… You absolutely will want a hood. I also had rain pants and was so very, very happy I had them.
I used a montbell apline light parka – down – and it was perfect. I never had any issue keeping down dry, since it only came out once we were in camp. The cold really came from the wind, so if you can block that well you can get away with not much insulation while actually hiking. Most of the campgrounds are quite sheltered, and all have cooking shelters, so that helps quite a bit.
Not sure why you would want both a fleece and a puffy…but I would recommend something like a cap4 hoody or something as a sleep layer (that you could use as well if the weather turned nasty on you during your hiking) but not sure you need another dedicated insulting layer.
We stayed at the Singing Lamb hostel in puerto Natales and LOVED it! The lady who runs it was so nice, it's just a block or two off the Main Street so it's quiet and great sleeping. Bathrooms are clean, showers are hot and strong, and she cooks a mean breakfast. The place is also just two blocks from Erratic Rock, which is where you WILL go for the daily 3 o'clock talk.
I did the circuit in feb of last year and had an absolute blast. My trip report is at backpackerPT.com, and feel free to send me an email or PM if you have any other questions. jenmitol AT gmail DOT com
Have fun planning!!Sep 18, 2013 at 10:22 am #2025809
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
We did the circuit in autumn after its "closure" because there was snow.
Mices were a big problem at that time.
First night we were careless and ended having to hang our backpacks in the middle of the night, while it was snowing heavily, the damage wasnt too big a few holes in our backpacks and some day bars eaten but no damage to our food bag.
After that we hanged it every night and we had no problem for our food.
We took the habit to eat / wash and hang our food + cooking gear, in different places and far from our shelter.
But one night i woke up to something on my face, this night we had a few holes in our myog silnylon + mesh inner and one on my wife neoair….
She was lucky that for snow camping we had brought a thin foam mat too.
So yes definitly i wouldnt camp with food in my shelter in the TdP just in case :)Sep 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm #2025872
Thanks for all the info and your trip report was great. Did you use gaiters?Sep 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm #2025927
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
First let me say that the Torres del Paine is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I think you'll have a wonderful trip.
My opinion on your questions: Mice weren't a problem, but I kept my pack inside my tent. The TDP is located in the latitudes known as the Roaring 40s; the winds are fierce and incessant. I used my WPB rain jacket as a windbreaker and I wore it almost all the time. A windshirt is a great idea unless it rains constantly, in which case you'll need something to keep you dry. As Jennifer notes the rain usually comes in squalls and a windshirt that's moderately water resistant should work. You'll need insulation for the evenings. I brought a down vest but fleece or wool ought to work. It wasn't all that cold when I did it (mid-summer). I didn't wear gaiters but wish I had. The trails can be very muddy.
We had planned to visit the French Valley but couldn't get there because of high water. Supposed to be the best scenery in the Park – which is really saying something. Have a great trip!
RichardSep 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm #2025941
I did not use gaiters and didn't really miss them. There was only one place where mud was really, really bad…and honestly gaiters would not have helped. We were there in mid February. If I went back I may take them – I think we lucked out weather wise.Sep 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm #2025962
@mothermenkeLocale: Upstate NY
My wife and I completed the TDP circuit (minus the Lago Nordenskjold/French Valley section) last December at just about the same time you're planning to go. It's absolutely beautiful, but completely transformed from how we experienced the park back in 2003. We had intended on doing the complete circuit when we started, but decided at Refugio Grey to cut it short due to the incredible number of people. As a completely informal estimate I would say that there were 4-6 times the number of people in 2012 than there were in 2003. I don't know what your tolerance for crowds is, but I would recommend spending as much time on the backside of the circuit as possible and minimize your time on the "W" portion.
-Make sure to bring plenty of small denomination Chilean pesos to the park, it seems that you can't break a large bill in the park at any of the refugios or tiendas.
-Gaiters were not completely necessary, but came in handy during the Los Perros to Paso John Garner section, more for snow than for mud. Early in December you might have to cross a mile or more of snowfields leading up to Paso Garner.
-I didn't need to wear my 60g synthetic hoody on top of my fleece hoody, but my wife did and she was still cold. It really just depends what kind of weather you get and what your furnace is like.
-We used an Outsack UL and had no mice get at our food.
-Make sure to save enough money for a six-pack of Cristal lager at Refugio Dickinson. Expensive crappy beer never tasted so good.
If you're interested we've got some left over items from our trip we don't need(outsack UL, park map, LP country guide, Chilean USB charger, extra pesos we forgot to spend). PM me if you'd want any of these.
Have fun and make sure to bring lots of extra batteries for your camera, we took over 700 photos during the six days we were there.Sep 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm #2025999
I agree…it was indeed crowded. The back side was by far my favorite (we started counterclockwise and finished at the Torres), but the French valley was amazing. Try to make it all the way up if you can…
My friend and I remarked how we probably would have been disappointed had we only done the W, primarily because of the crowds.Sep 20, 2013 at 9:39 am #2026481
Thanks for all the info although you are scaring me a lil about the crowds I am excited. Just to clear something up I was planning on bringning a Rain Jacket, Marmot Essence, on top of the rab boreas but am going to start keeping an eye out for a dedicated wind jacket.Sep 20, 2013 at 11:40 am #2026514
Chris, I used my marmot precip as my only wind/rain barrier and I was fine. This was before I learned of the magic of the windshirt, but honestly I was never uncomfortable using the jacket. I wore it A LOT, and it was completely fine. The Essence is nice…it might be all you need.Oct 6, 2013 at 8:44 am #2031211
@wim_depondtLocale: The low countries
I would forgo with the wind shirt but rather invest in a beter rain jacket, offering a broader comfort range than Marmot's own membrane (my advice: eVent fabric).
When I go to Scandinavia in summer for 5d+ trips, with similar (changeable) climate as TdP, the Boreas + eVent shell offers a flexible combination as you can layer both
– windy but (changeable) dry: Boreas + base layer is most often sufficient and comfortable
– Cold wind and/or rain: just layer the eVent over it (read: no hassle with taking off your wind shirt and replace it with a rain shell. A bonus when rain is on and off)
RE Crowds: you could consider the El Chalten region over TdP. Although it has been about 15 years since I visited both places, the El Chalten region had far less visitors than TdP, was easier to reach (flights to El Calafate + 1 bus) and had equally impressive views, especially when incorporating the loop via Paso del Viento (although, I must admit I did not do that trek as it wasn't waymarked back than – read: pre-GPS era). Don't know the whether it has been waymarket nowadays, but there is a GPX-file now on Wikiloc.com.
(Impresive) impressions of (off trail) options:
http://patagoniandreams.com/2013/05/06/patagonia-un-paseo-otonal-entre-la-roca-el-hielo-y-la-lenga/Oct 6, 2013 at 9:09 am #2031224
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
en of april early may, we met a few people on the W and yes the french valley is georgeous :)
but no one on the circuit
except mices :p
i was happy to have brought some patches for neoair …
sorry the text is in french but some photos off the park in autumn :Nov 12, 2013 at 9:13 am #2043688
Thanks again for all the advice. I am working out my final gear list and will post soon for some comments. I'm leaving on the 28th and can not wait. Was looking for some advice on what to do for food? I know I'll be able to pick up snacks and stuff in chile but was thinking along the lines of dinner. I'll be using an MSR reactor so looking at one pot just boil water meals. I'm trying to decide whether I should just bring a bunch of Freeze Dried meals from home or if i'll be able to get different stuff when I get to Puerto Natales (I will be heading there straight from the airport after landing in Punta Arenas).Nov 14, 2013 at 7:36 am #2044425
Have you read this series of articles
Ten Days in Torres del Paine: Global Test Photo Essay ,
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