condor view

 

The drive to the base of the mountain is magnificent - with views of the Ultima Esperanza fjord, lakes, forests and mountains. When the sky is clear, the spires and granite peaks of Torres del Paine in the north are seen at every turn.

We will leave the car by an estancia fence, at the starting point for the ascent to the summit of Cerro Castillo.

 

The walk starts following cattle tracks, uphill for a while before we reach a flat area covered with yellow coirón grasses and little patches of forest. At this point we start getting incredible views of the Andes, the Torres del Paine mountains, the eastern pampas, and at our feet, the huge Lago del Toro of a vibrating blue colour.

 

Walking on guanaco tracks, we will climb passed the level up to which vegetation grows. Avoiding the vertical rock walls we will face a steep slope until reaching the final ridge. From here onwards, the view gets better and better: so vast and majestic that even the soaring condors seem to be enjoying it from above.

 

The ridge will lead us to the conglomerate rock summit. From the top we will admire the most amazing  360º panorama - mountain peaks,  glaciers, valleys, a fine patchwork of little lakes and fields, and the endless plains towards east.

 

It will take us 3 to 4 hours to climb 1,100 meters (3,600 feet); then, a couple of hours to walk back down. The steep mountain demands fitness and knees that can withstand the downhill.

 

The sensation of being alone in the middle of an enormous vastness, the breathtaking aerial views, and the feeling of accomplishment, are a great reward to this adventure.

 

Car drive O/W:                      45 minutes

Hiking time:                           6 - 7 hours

Difficulty:                                high

Distance:                                12 km (7.5 mi)

Initial altitude:                        70 m (230 ft)

Maximum altitude:                1,160 m (3,805 ft)

Vertical ascent:                      1,100 m (3,600 ft)