Camp Paine Grande – Mirador Británico – Camp Los Cuernos
Short Outline of Hike
- Distance: 25km
- Duration: 10h, including breaks at the Británico lookout and at Italiano ranger station after hike up to lookout
- It’s a steady up and down between Camp Paine Grande and Camp Los Cuernos.
- From Camp Paine Grande to Camp Italiano it is about 7.5km.
- It’s a round trip to mirador Británico from Camp Italiano with an elevation gain of 550m within 5.5km in one direction.
- From Italiano to Los Cuernos it’s another 5km.
- This section is well-marked and crowded.
- Camp Los Cuernos is fully equipped with hot showers, bathrooms, a kitchen room, a restaurant, a little shop. Prices for food and items from the shops are very high though.
Following is my personal grading of the hike including some key points. If you have no idea what the SB scale is, have a quick look here.
The overall grade regarding difficulty is SB-3.6. The grade is made up of the following categories:
Category A – General – SB-8
- Distance: 25km, duration: 10h
- Elevation gain/loss: Between the camps Paine Grande and Los Cuernos, without the Británico lookout, it’s a steady up and down. Up to the Británico lookout there’s an elevation gain of about 550km within 5.5km. You walk the same way up as back.
Category B – Terrain – SB-5
Between Camp Paine Grande and Los Cuernos the path is mainly easy forest ground. Up to the Británico lookout there are some rocky parts, in particular the closer you get to the lookout. A few boulders on the way for some fun 🙂
Category C – Weather – SB-2
It remains cold but sunny all day. It starts raining when we arrive at camp.
Category D – Special Conditions – SB-2
Backpack is getting lighter by the day. I’m getting stronger and stronger with it. The hike up to the lookout with just a small bag feels like a walk in the park. But the backpack is still and will remain heavy enough to be a factor.
Category E – Individual Conditions – SB-1
I’m fit and well, especially after that disaster hangover walk from yesterday. The “short” walk with just a small pack to the Británico mirador feels like a little treat for my body.
The Story behind the hike
This is the day when we are doing the most kilometers. Next to heading towards the next camp, we take a little detour up to the Británico lookout. The detour is definitely worth it. You have awesome views up and down the Francés valley.
All day we walk along Sköttsberg Lake and Nordernskjöld Lake. We leave our big backpacks in the Italiano camp, like most other hikers. We put some locks on our backpacks, tied them together and hung them on a tree. To make extra sure it is safe from crazy mice and other curious creatures 😉
It’s the first day in over a week when I am walking a longer distance with only a tiny backpack. I feel like I am flying. The whole distance seems like a walk in the park. Sometime around this time, I must’ve started developing my heavy-backpack-training idea.
Up to the Británico lookout we follow a river. There are several smaller springs flowing into this river. Drinking from springs throughout the park is safe. Patagonia is said to have very clean water. When you drink from one, make sure you choose a spring away and uphill from walking treks. Along the trek, I found some boulders to play around a little bit 🙂
When we reach Camp Francés, it’s time to say our goodbyes to Darryn. Originally. But only for a day as the three of us already decided to have a little after trek gathering together in Puerto Natales. Christian and I explain our situation regarding being behind with the reservations. They want us to repay the stay for this night. Facing the fact that we have to pay again anyways, we spontaneously decide to walk a bit further and join Darryn at his camp. Don’t break up the hiking crew 😀
It makes the distance for this day longer but saves us a few k’s on the next day. It’s a bit harder for us to find a camp spot here. The camp is more or less crowded. There are a lot of wooden platforms to put up self standing tents but ours needs pegs to fully stand. All the good spots on the ground are taken, at least as far as we can see. We arrive in the camp when it’s already getting dark. So, we take our chances with a more shitty spot tonight.