Sunrise over the Torres del Paine
I essentially lived inside Torres del Paine for a couple of months some years back. Whilst I regularly saw the Torres from a distance, any time I approached on foot they jumped into a cloud. Or a cloud jumped onto them.
So it was that on my last visit, with a clear day forecast, I persuaded my brother (or was it the other way round?) to get up in the middle of the night in order to get up to the Torres for sunrise.
Hiking those harsh 9km uphill in the dark was really quite beautiful, though having maximised our time in bed we were going at quite a clip. About half way up the final moraine as the sky began to lighten I realised just how excited, privileged, I was to see what I was about to see. Having been denied this view so many times, it felt like a particularly special gift. And so it was.
There was a moment, when the dawn first broke, that the sky behind the Torres became a dramatic dark grey-blue. The granite of the spires standing out beautifully against it.
The light quickly started to reduce the contrast into a pale early morning glow. I sat back thinking that the show was over. And then it started.
The first rays of direct sunlight hit the very top of the towers, turning them the most exquisite rich orange pink colour. It was not that the sky became bright, rather the mountains were being set alight. Bit by bit the light flowed down the sheer rock faceuntil all of the towers glowed, then the snow field at the foot of the cliffs, then the surrounding peaks. It just kept on coming, each precious, privileged, lucky minute adding to the one before.
At a certain point the sunlight flooded the sky and the Torres faded back to their more usual muted colour, beautiful as ever against a clear blue sky but not the heart stopping stuff of their fiery sunrise.
So, if you are lucky enough to get to Torres del Paine and have the slightest chance of a clear dawn, get your head torch out and set your alarm clock. Watching the sun rise over the torres is simply one of those moments which we get to carry with us through life.
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