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Cordillera del Paine

The Cordillera del Paine is a small but spectacular mountain group in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It is located 400 km north of Punta Arenas, and about 2,500 km south of the Chilean capital Santiago. It belongs to the Commune of Torres del Paine in Ultima Esperanza Province of Magallanes y Antartica Chilena Region. No accurate surveys have been published, and published elevations have been claimed to be seriously inflated, so the elevations given on this page are all approximate.Biggar, John, 2005. The Andes: A Guide for Climbers . Several elevations given by this authority are much lower than those given by other authorities, and the higher elevations are not supported by official Chilean IGM maps.


The highest summit of the range is probably Cerro Paine Grande, at . Its elevation is usually claimed to be 3,050 m but analysis of local photography suggests that it may be nearer to 2,750 m.

The best-known and most spectacular summits are the three Towers of Paine . They are gigantic granite monoliths shaped by the forces of glacial ice.

The South Tower of Paine is now thought to be the highest of the three, although this has not been definitely established. It was first climbed by Armando Aste.

The Central Tower of Paine was first climbed in 1963 by Chris Bonington and Don Whillans, and the North Tower of Paine was first climbed by Guido Monzino.

Other summits include the Cuerno Principal, about 2,100 m but often quoted at 2,600 m, and Cerro Paine Chico, which is usually correctly quoted at about 2,650 m.


The Torres del Paine National Park - an area of 2,400 km - was declared a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 1978 and is a popular hiking destination. There are clearly marked and well maintained paths and many refugios which provide shelter and basic services. Views are breathtaking.

Hikers can opt for a day trip to see the towers, walk the popular "W" route in about five days, or trek the full circle in 8-9 days.

The "W" route is by far the most popular, and is named for the shape of the route. Hikers start and finish at either of the base points of the "W", performing each of the three shoots as a day trip. The five points of the W, from west to east, are:

Glacier Grey, a large glacier calving into the lake of the same name. Camping is available next to Refugio Grey.

Refugio Pehoe, situated on Lago Pehoe. This site offers good views of the "horns" of Torres del Paine.

Valle del Frances ("Frenchman's Valley"), often rated as the best scenery in the whole park. The path leads up into a snowy dead-end, where several small glaciers are visible.

Hosteria las Torres, a large hotel at the base of the mountain range.

The Torres del Paine themselves, large rock formations over a small lake, high in the mountains.

The longer "circuit" walk includes all the sights of the "W", but avoids most backtracking, by connecting Glacier Grey and the Torres del Paine around the back of the mountain range.

Boats and buses provide transport between Hosteria las Torres, Refugio Pehoe, and the park entrance at Laguna Amarga.

It is a national park and thus hikers are not allowed to stray from the paths. Camping is only allowed at specified campsites, and wood fires are prohibited in the whole park.

In 2005, a Czech backpacker camping in the park used a gas stove and caused a fire that destroyed 160 km of the park. Replanting, with assistance from the Czech Republic, was set to begin in September 2005.


Biggar, John, 2005. The Andes: A Guide for Climbers .

Kearney, Alan, 1993. Mountaineering in Patagonia. Seattle USA: Cloudcap.

External links

Patagonia Webcam and maps from Paine

Torres del Paine on summitpost

Torres del Paine Circuit Planning

Photograph of the cordillera from Estero Ultima Esperanza, 50 km to the south

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cordillera del Paine

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