Cerro Castillo, Chile
42 km circuit around glaciers and alpine lakes
Cerro Castillo, Chile is a 42 km hike that begins off of Route 7 (the famed Carretera Austral) and through Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. Featuring two mighty passes with glacier views the reward, we spent three nights in punishing conditions, grateful for the relative solitude of the hike, and the clear views we enjoyed during the days.
Travel Tip: Check the wind before you head out on this loop, and never attempt a pass if there are storms building up in front or behind you. The second pass of Cerro Castillo has blown experienced hikers to their deaths, and freezing whiteouts at elevation are common.
From Cerro Castillo we saw all of Villa Cerro Castillo, Rio Ibanez leading out to Puerto Ibanez, and the massive Lago Gral Carrera beyond. One of our most stunning moments of the trip, and a view I will never forget. Reese Wells.
UNGHHHH! Yeah! Freaking LOVE this picture, man. Cerro Castillo to the left, Villa Cerro Castillo & beyond to the right, and a mountain of scree right in the middle. Do me on it! Reese Wells.
What a dramatic figure Tyler cuts, with this big gooey glacier holding onto the craggy rock face. My little blueberry. Reese Wells.
A lotta sky, lotta scree, lot of snow, lotta mountain. Tyler a little blue bug crawling across the slope. This side of the pass gentle compared to the 50 + mph winds spraying us with ice pellets. Reese Wells.
A beautiful shot on a beautiful day. Tyler and I got extremely lucky with the notoriously fickle weather here, and were rewarded with an incredible view. Reese Wells.
A #panoporn pic capturing both Cerro Castillo and Cerro Castillo Chico. A couple of hulk, to be sure, but they know how to pose pretty for the camera. Reese Wells.
Hard to describe that first time you're up close and personal with a glacier. This one took our words, and our breath away. Go now, before they are all gone. Reese Wells.
On the west side of Paso Penon, we're given an impressive view of the valley, and a river of glacial melt racing downhill towards Villa Cerro Castillo. I love how the treeline has such a uniform line here. Reese Wells.
Middle of the summer and Paso Penon is covered in three feet of snow. Tyler makes his way gamely up the slippery slope, looking back occasionally to the east, where our trail winds through a rocky valley. Reese Wells.
A clear look at the eastern slopes of Paso Penon, which looks very Tolkein to me - like the left rock face is a sentinel standing eternal watch over the pass. Reese Wells.
Tyler is on the left side of the picture, with an incredible mountain backdrop. I love this photo for all the shades of green. Reese Wells.
Tyler hiking along a dry riverbed en route to Paso Penon (left side of the screen). The rain was spritzing down here, and I find this a very attractive and dramatic shot. Reese Wells.
This is one of the most visually vibrant photos of the whole trip - taken at golden hour, I love the throbbing deep orange of the scree slopes, and the murky blue of a river silty and engorged. Reese Wells.
How we would consistently set up dinner - with a hammock tarp overhead. It rained for a month straight on us in central Patagonia. Tyler getting our crackers and cheese appetizers ready, because we are gourmet mofos with some attitude. Reese Wells.
Looking at mountains, fully decked out in the rain, backpack cover cinched tight, loose grip on hiking poles, our sweet Tigre is one adventure enthusiast. Check out how muddy the water is! It totally jammed up our gravity filter. Reese Wells.
Some sweet, sweet #panoporn going on here in Cerro Castillo, this on day one of our circuit hike. It's a dark, dramatic place, somewhere just west of Mordor. Reese Wells.
Early on in the Cerro Castillo circuit one follows a gravel road into the trail. Suddenly, the road turns into a riverbed, and you're navigating by cairns. But the whole goal is to hike around that big scary mountain in the background, so navigation isn't really an issue. Tyler's got the right idea - one foot forward at a time. Reese Wells.
This was our first full-blown, pants-off river crossing of Greater Patagonia. It most definitely would not be our last. Tyler navigated all his crossings in Crocs, I opted for the sturdier Chacos. I like the way the foam sprays up behind Tyler's legs in this picture. Reese Wells.
This bucolic scene turns rugged right after Tyler makes the bend. I love the green grass here. Picture doesn't capture the wind, which is a monster, and is whipping Tyler around like a rag doll. Yay! Reese Wells.
I love that moment when the mountains become cutouts in the backlit sunset sky, when all definition is lost and what is left behind are the black and jagged outlines of overlapping eons of deliberate tectonic angst.
I like this moment because it makes me think about memory, and how memories can lose their detail over time, but never their feel.