We werent brave enough to do the full W so we did a 1 day hike up to Torres, then the west V staying at the refugio Paine Grande.
Day hike Torres - the bus is 15,000 pp return which our hostel booked for us. It picked us up from our hostel between 730-8am. It takes 2 hrs but you stop half way at a shop/cafe for a 10/15 minute break. They have a few snacks if you need to beef up your food supplies but nothing substantial. The bus drops you at Amarga, where you sign into the park, pay 18,000 pp park entry fee and watch an introductory video. From here you either get back on the bus to Pudeto (catamaran port) or administracion, or you can get a shuttle to Hosteria Las Torres (the start of the Torres/w Trek) or you can start walking from here. We didnt have enough cash for the shuttle so started walking - note that its 7.5km to the hosteria Las Torres which is meant to take 2.5 hrs. We started hiking at 10.30 as soon as we got into the park and got back to the park entrance at 7.30 just in time for the last bus at 7.45 - we had to walk at a very fast pace and had to jog part of the last stretch as we were cutting it close. If you are doing a day trek to torres i would strongly suggest taking the shuttle at least one way to give yourself a few extra hours on the hike and time to get back for the bus. As for the hike, its a steady incline pretty much the whole way. its really not too bad until the last 45 mins up to the viewpoint. The last section is horrendously steep and a tough trek but definitely worth it. It was snowing, windy and bitterly cold when we got to the top but the laguna is stunning and we got a glimpse of the towers which made it all worthwhile.
West V - Your park entry lasts for 3 days, so as we returned within that time frame we didnt have to pay again. We got the bus into the park, arrived at amarga at 10. We stayed on the bus whilst everyone else checked in and paid. We then continued on the bus to Pudeto, arriving at about 11. There is a small cafe you can wait in until the ferry goes at 12. You buy your tickets (12,000 pp) on the boat and they check your tickets as you get off. The boat ride is only 30 minutes across the beautiful blue lago pehoe - definitely go onto the roof of the boat to get some scenic piccies. Once arrived at Paine Grande, we checked into our dorm and headed up to Glacier Grey. This hike is a gradual incline to the mirador - 1.5 hrs in - which gives you a fantastic view of the glacier. If you dont have time to do the full Grey trek, definitely make time to get to the mirador. Its stunning. After here, its another 2 hrs (more rocky and steeper inclines/declines) to the camp and then after the camp another 30 mins to the viewpoint. Its a nice glacier but if you have seen Perito Moreno you wont be WOWed by this one.
At Paine Grande Refugio, dinner is $20 pp, 3 course meal from 7-9. I had read terrible reviews about the food but was actually quite impressed. Its really not that bad. There is a little bar above the cafeteria if you fancy a post hike nightcap. Our dorm was 6 beds - 47$ per night with no food or blankets included - shared bathrooms. Its expensive but there arent too many other options if you dont want to camp! The dorms were nice but ours was very cold so you might need some extra layers!
On the 2nd day we attempted the Frances Valley trek. The trek to Camp Italiano is a nice scenic walk, not too challenging and has some fantastic views. By the time we got to the camp the heavens had opened, the rain was falling hard and our desire to climb any further disappeared, so we took the lazy option and headed back for the earlier ferry (12.30).
I have a lot of respect for all those that do the full W, its a tough trek, much harder than El Chalten, and the weather was on off rain/wind/cold so you are often trekking your heart out for no view but hopefully the sense of achievement and experience makes it all worthwhile!
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