The first time I saw the Grey glacier in Torres Del Paine National Park I nearly cried. Yes, go ahead and laugh. Some people cry when they see their newborn baby for the first time. I cry when I see massive glaciers. To my defense, up to that moment that glacier was the most beautiful thing I have seen in my life. About an hour before I first got a glimpse of that huge block of ice I was fighting my way over a pass in the middle of a snow storm. At least back then it was a fight for me. Even though I have done a few hikes before that and was in good shape the Patagonian weather did its best to keep the first days of my first multi day hike in South America interesting. And that is put nicely. Including a near death experience my love for hiking was already tested within the first 24 hours.
It turned out that this love has only grown stronger through these experiences. That is why I want to share them with you. Maybe you will even have a laugh every now and then about the stupid mistakes that can be made 😉
On the following pages you will find detailed descriptions about the hikes I have done so far and that I find worth explaining. They will be divided into day and multi day hikes. I try to give you as much info as possible, in case you want to do them yourself and be prepared. Each one of them will also have a grade regarding its level of difficulty. The grading system that is the base for these grades is of my own creation and will be explained in the following paragraphs. Please be aware that this is still from a subjective point of view, meaning it is my interpretation. So, depending on your level of fitness hikes might end up being easier or more difficult for you. That is one of the reasons why I grade each hike by several factors. But see for yourself….
My grading system for hikes…
…or the SB scale as I like to call it 🙂
Hikes will be graded between SB-1 and SB-10, marking SB-1 the easiest and SB-10 the most difficult type of hike. Why the letters you might ask? S and B are the initials of my name and it gives the whole thing a super professional look 😀
These are the single categories hikes will be graded by:
Category A: General
This category includes general factors, such as distance, trekking time and elevation gain.
Category B: Terrain
This category describes the terrain of the hike. Terrain conditions can have quite an influence on how a hike can turn out. Anyone who has ever walked in mud, dry sand, across a river, on rocks, gravel, paved ground compared to nice forest ground probably knows what I mean. For the rest…You really need to get out there and spend some time in nature! But better late than never 😉
Category C: Weather
Oh my, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference weather can make for a hike! Remember that pass and the snow storm I mentioned earlier? A day before, same pass, different weather: around 15°C, no clouds, pure sunshine. On the pics the other hikers, I met in camp, showed me I saw that you are even able to see the Grey glacier already from the pass. When I walked the same trek a day later I couldn’t even see as far as a hundred meters!
Category D: Special Conditions
Conditions such as altitude or if you do a hike with a simple day pack rather than a huge backpack may slow you down. Doing an easy hike at sea level or at 5000m has major effects on the body. It is also important what kind of gear is needed or if the hike requires actual climbing. So, the factors gear, special clothing, type of backpack, altitude and if actual climbing is required will make up the grade in this category.
Category E: Individual Condition
In this category I will give a short overview about my personal condition during the hike. This is to monitor the level of subjectivity. Bad preparation, fitness, mood or a sickness can turn a hike into a very specific experience. An easy hike will still be horror when done with a headache or when you forgot that extra chocolate bar and you are hungry all the time. Believe me, I know what I am talking about…
I will grade each hike separately by these categories. The overall grade will be the average of the grades in each category.
I hope this will help you when judging a hike and preparing for it. Now, have fun reading and start hiking! 🙂