The type of chill that only comes at four AM, when your hat has long fallen off, your puffy pataguucci jacket has wadded into the very depths of your sleeping bag and your second pair of wool socks finally isn’t enough. Most conveniently the urge to urinate awaken you first, the alarm will follow 45 minutes later, the snooze nine minutes after that, and now it’s time to emerge from the cocoon and slowly freeze while finally cutting loose that four AM piss.
By moonlight we made it the 3 km up valley to campimento Torres, looking west to our right, the steep rocky slope was dotted with the lights of hikers who didn’t hit the snooze button. Pushing hard, knowing that we had a 7:09 sunrise to beat, we worked our way up the 1200 ft rocky zig zag, following yellow stakes with reflectors to aid our way. Steadily we gained altitude, slowly the sun rose, the clouds morphed from black to purple, pink, then orange as we crested the ridge line and Cerro Torres came into view.
We picked our way along the windy ridge, looking not at the incredible granite spires above us but at the boulders surrounding us, looking for a windless nook that had not yet been claimed. It was 6:45 am and all of the good spots had been snatched by the serious looking, hard core trekking crowd that we had become accustomed to here at Torres Del Paine. As hard core as they were, they were about to be awed by the level of comfort we schlepped up the ridge that morning. As the sun finally crested the ridge, lighting up the spires in an iridescent orange, we were sipping mocha cappuccino out of mugs, laid back in our reclining camp chairs, nested up in our down sleeping bags, taking in what may have been the most picturesque sunrise that morning in all of the Americas. Meanwhile the core crowd was quickly capturing the moment on film before hastily packing it in and heading down to the comfort of their Refugio.
After the mornings sunrise, lakeside coffee, tea and breakfast, we all felt that we’d witnessed Torres Del Paine at her maximum glory. Not wanting to lose this high, we packed camp and hit the downslope for our van and some much needed ice cream.
Hot showers were had, ice cream smashed and the van was packed, we headed north to El Calafate and Parque National Los Glaciares. Fast forward 5 hours, 280 kms of gravel/paved road, and one border crossing we reached the outskirts of town, with a large billboard proclaiming the concert of the summer, Ricky Martin, once dos tres ole ole ole! Already shell shocked from our otherworldly morning, this most excellent news really amped up morale. We ordered take out pizzas, Milanesa sandwhichs, and prepared for our biggest Saturday yet.
I awoke first around 3 am to torrential rain knocking on the roof of the van, this caused a bit of concern, as we had parked on top of hill overlooking town, and had driven up a sketchy dirt road to achieve this viewpoint. I slept restlessly the next 4 hours, anxious for the mud slicked drive down to pavement and especially for the evenings concert. The mud of my dreams turned out to be perfect gravel and soon we were off to see the largest ice mass outside of the polar regions, Glaciar Perito Moreno. We arrived in a light rain and packed for the days adventure by filling our backpack with left over budweisers, snacks and our camp chairs, the agenda was to sit and watch the Glaciar calve into the lake and all of the adrenaline that surely would come from the sight of it.
It turns out that as per usual, our idea of a good time, is not everyone else’s idea of a good time. We nabbed front row on the second tier balcony, cracked our beers and awaited the devastation, while jealous tourists glared our way. When the 230 ft face of the Glaciar finally cracked a large iceberg off, it was well worth the wait and felt much like watching a massive wreck in a NASCAR race, really fast, spectacular, and when complete, a bit disappointing. We continued to watch for another 60 minutes or so, before impatience, the sideways rain, and the deep chill that accompanied it, forced a retreat back to the van. Of course as Marlie and I were ascending the stairs and out of view, when the largest calve of the day rumbled and smashed into the lake with the complimenting chorus of the ohhs and ahhs from the crowd, luckily Andrew and Brian witnessed it; it wasn’t a total loss.
The light rain continued, and as we drove into town and past the concert venue, we passed the Ricky faithful, lined up by the thousands enduring the elements. Being the fair weather crew that we are, we hunkered down in the van, cooked a dinner of beef stir fry, amid started a pre concert game of Catan. By the end of the game, we were buzzed enough to venture out into the night and towards the sounds of madness coming from the Ricky concert. We arrived to the outdoor amphitheater and the gates were open, soon were smack in the center of floor seating for the grande finale. We sang, we danced, we fist pumped with Ricky, and celebrated my half birthday. 29.5.