Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

We awoke early in our room in a hospedaje in Puerto Natales. It was dark and the wind was howling. Despite the good weather report it seemed like we were up to typical patagonian weather. This was the first time that I had felt a few concerns when I thought about the upcoming days. We had rented a tent and bought food for 7 days outdoors.
I knew that we wouldn't have the comfort of a warm shower or electricity for some time, but with wind gusts like the ones we could hear outside our trip to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine might become more uncomfortable than we had expected. Despite the slight feeling of unease we packed our backpacks and got ready for our first real patagonian adventure.
When we went outside to await our pick-up we were surprised how warm the wind was. It was still strong, but it didn't feel as intimidating as it had sounded inside. The dark clouds above us were moving fast. It didn't look like rain and soon the first rays of the sun hit the clouds from above to give them a warm glow.

Torres del Paine Grasslands © Joerg Bonner

When we arrived in the park the weather was fine, though. Actually it was really hot and we started our walk in a t-shirt.
We had decided to walk the classic W trek which would take us to all the sights in the park. A few extra days and smart planning ensured that we would see them all in good light but also meant that we had to carry our tent a few extra miles.
On our first day we didn't mind walking past the first refugio (Campamento Chileno) were most people were staying (apart from the more wealthy ones, that were willing to pay a few hundred dollars for a room in the Hosteria Las Torres). We kept following the path into the valley for another hour until we reached Campamento Torres.

Valle del Rio Ascencio © Joerg Bonner

Halfway into the Valle del Rio Ascencio we reached our campground. After setting up our tent we climbed the last 500m to the look-out Mirador Torres. The view from the top of the moraine on which the look-out is situated is spectacular. We sat at the lake below the Torres, amazed by the vista, for quite some time before I started scouting for compositions.
I had already buried my hopes for a sunset shoot when we were cooking dinner (noodles in vegetable soup). The last clouds had disappeared and my legs felt too tired to climb up to the Torres del Paine again (I knew this was a sunrise location and didn't want to exhaust myself on the first evening). We went to sleep soon and I set my alarm clock to 4am. It would take me about an hour to reached the Laguna below the Torres and I wanted to be first.
When I woke up I could see lights in a few other tents and I even spotted a few headlamps on the trail to the Torres. I hurried to get up there myself, as not to lose the spot I had scouted the day before to someone else, but it turned out that most people going up there were mostly no photo geeks (just regular tourists that must have read about the opportunity to watch a great sunrise in their guidebooks). After I reached the Mirador I went down to the water and had the little lake to myself.

Torres del Paine © Joerg Bonner

The view up there was just stunning. I enjoyed it for about half an hour before the sun began to spill the first pink light onto the clouds above the towers. It was still pretty dark and at f/11 I didn't need a lot of ND power to bring the exposure times to about two minutes. Yesterdays wind was gone and the reflection was crystal clear.

Torres del Paine Stream © Joerg Bonner

The show didn't last for too long. After a few minutes the pink glow was gone and the sun was covered by a layer of fog. After a short chat with a few guys that wanted to know what I was doing with all my equipment I decided it was time to add something to my composition. I went to the outlet of the lake below the Torres, where I found a few interesting rapids. While I set up my tripod again, the clouds gave way to the sun and it's first warm light hit the Torres del Paine.

Torres del Paine Morning Light © Joerg Bonner

I had already packed everything back into my bag, but couldn't resist to set up my tripod again when I reached the top of the moraine, about 20 minutes past sunrise. I was on my way back to the campground in the valley. The sun hit the Torres del Paine one last time before disappearing again behind a thin layer of clouds.

Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, XII Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena, Chile
On the way from the northern park-entry through the Valle del Rio Ascencio to the Torres del Paine. 50 deg 56' 35.59" S / 72 deg 57' 0.29" W

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