After a rest day, the weather turns nasty and we decide to try our luck further down south in Chile’s Torres del Paine region which is one of the destinations of choice for hikers and mountaineers because of its soaring granite peaks and unspoiled natural beauty. But it rains during the whole 6-hour ride down, the entire time we are supposed to hike and only clears up during the last 2 hours of the ride back. To make it worse, heavy cloud and mist obscure any possible chance of us getting a glimpse of the supposed unparalleled beauty of the scenery and I again fight a losing battle with toilets on busses and this one has the entire floor and toilet seat soaked in urine.
Peter is very much a glass half full kind of guy and remains upbeat. He wants to spend the remaining time we have going north to hike another glacier and see if we can catch views of Mount Fitzroy and the surrounding ranges. I absolutely refuse to get on a bus again. Being a glass half empty kind of girl, I truly believe that my bladder will revolt, walk out and leave even should I even attempt to look sideways at one. So, we decide to hire a car for the next two days and drive leisurely to the town of El Chalten. By this time, the winds have built up to a gusty 120km per hour and the rent-a-car person actually tells us that we must at all times hang onto the doors of the car when opening them. The wind is so strong it actually rips car doors off its hinges, even windscreens through busses! The winds aren’t just bitterly cold here, in fact, they are the mean type of cold that bitch slaps you while insulting your mother.
And it is in this weather that we take to the ice again, but this time on a glacier that is far more challenging. The Viedma glacier is much bigger than the Perito Moreno and has more steep inclines which fall away sharply into bottomless crevasses. I am not particularly religious but I find myself engaged in conversation with God a lot the whole time as the ferocious winds constantly buffet me around and at times pushes me off my feet causing me to lose my balance. Even one of the experienced guides looses her footing and hurts her ankle as we are descending through slippery rocky areas. The guides here also treat us to a drink of Baileys on ice (again from the glacier) at the halfway point which is very welcomed and warms the stomach if only for a short moment and fortifies my resolve to get off the glacier intact and alive.
As we drive back at sunrise to catch a plane on our last day, we feel like we have the whole world to ourselves save for the rabbits darting across the roads, Patagonian deer who watch you as you point cameras at them, condors soaring overhead and herds of sheep being kept in check by the gauchos (traditional Patagonian cowboys) on their horses. We farewell the fauna of Patagonia as the sun peaks out and bathes the mountains in the first rays of the morning.