We headed south to Patagonia to catch the end of summer. Winter in this area is bitterly cold with extreme weather conditions, which makes this hike almost impossible. We set off on a five day trek to Torres del Paine carrying with us everything we needed.
To reach the west end of the park, we took a 40 minute boat through the beautiful blue glacier lake surrounding the southern end of the park. The winds were so strong that standing on the roof of the boat was terrifying. I clung onto the railing and climbed my way to the top to quickly snap this shot of the incredible landscape ahead of us.
We hiked from Paine Grande Lodge to Refugio Grey. At Refugio Grey we set up camp and hiked another hour to the glacier view point. This gave us views which reached out over the top of the giant Glacier Grey, giving us a bird's eye perspective.
The park is full of rugged and untamed beauty. The landscape can be harsh and the weather, fierce. While hiking from Paine Grande, a blizzard broke out in the French Valley, blocking us from going any further and sending more bad weather our way.
After making our way down closer to one of the park's huge icy cold lakes, the winds began to form whirlpools on top of the lake. When we came level with the freezing lake, we were pelted with water and wind, knocking us off our feet, feeling like our faces were being stabbed by tiny knives. After fighting our way through this for an hour, we reached a sheltered area, looked up, and saw Torres del Paine's "horns" looming over us.
These pictures show the three granite peaks after which the park is named, The Torres (or towers). It felt like an incredibly huge achievement to make it this far. The hike up to the glacier lake is quite harrowing for an inexperienced hiker, and requires a lot of rock scrambling. It was absolutely freezing, more so due to our wet clothes - but seeing this amazing work of nature is more than worth it.
Huge glacier rivers flow all around the park, they formed the valleys and taste like heaven itself.
One last look at the divine creations of our world before returning to town for a very deserved (and needed) hot shower.
Written by Emma Gaffney
Follow her adventures on Instagram @emmagaffer