Escoba de Dios
German drinking ramblers, deep gutteral tones and hearty laughs, drinking Qilmes at the next table at the El relincho campground - makes it hard to think. Reflecting in the highlights of our W trek...
A Rainbow followed us as we traversed the lower skirts beneath the massive two-towers of the Cuernos for several hours. The rainbow came out of the lake. There may not have even been rain at that point but the 100 mph gusts were lifting the surface layer of the water what seemed to be more than 100 feet into the air and raining it over us a 1/4 mile up from lake Nordenskjold. The wind would then alternately spin and pull tornadically into water spouts. We didn't witness it but the guided group we kept running into said they saw the waterfalls flowing backwards.
Thursdays sunrise had been beyond epic with brilliantly blazing low red cumulous contrasting crazily against the near black wind-whipped backdrop of eerie cloudscape to the south. I watched helplessly and screamed "Maureen!" as the tent violently ripped out of her hand in a 180 spin up some 20 feet in the air and out of sight over the low trees and into the ravine. i was fairly convinced it would be shredded if it could even be found. It bounced some 700 feet upslope toward the cuernos. I couldn't see it and to scream at Maureen to direct me to it through the roar of the wind.
At the next table I find more distaction and can pick out the word kletteren, super canaleta, Torres del Paine. It is clear the Germans are crusty old aplinists and probably only a handful left in Chalten at the edge of the season as the days get shorter and colder. Crevasses are opening up on the glaciers from a long hot summer making some approaches extra gnarly.
We lost two tent stakes and Maureen lost a pair of socks but collected random clothing pieces that had fallen out while I chased the tent down, luckily it had hung up on some heather, but it was barely attached via a looped guy line. A bent pole and a dime size hole were all it suffered. Somewhat heart stopping as I grabbed it with more gusts pushing through. I had battled through near vertical thorny shrubbery in my Darn Tough socks that lived up to their name and saved my feet. I pulled the poles through and dropped it on the spot not wanting a repeat disappearance.
We later heard someone lost a tent in the lake and that two backpackers were blown over a 4 meter ledge and ended up in the hospital. As we hiked into sideways rain it seemed as though there were two competing storm fronts one blowing south from Lago Grey past Paine Grande and the other pushing west from Valle del Silencio.
For a couple hours we just had the wind and brief sprayings from the lake as it seemed the storms kept battling each other with wind at the frontlines- the rainclouds held in stasis just behind. we walked in a strange kind of shared eye born of the two fronts. The sun burned free from the edges at the apex of the storms that formed an ephemeral right angle of moisture and light ahead of us and allowed for the rainbow to blaze consistently behind us - I was amazed that it stayed for some three hours.
The last hour before the trail rounded into the valley that led up to the Torres Del Paine the rain from the front pushing west had won and the wind was no longer at our backs - but driving straight into us with endless bullets of stinging rain...