In Chilean Patagonia, Dientes de Navarino is a trek of superlatives. It begins from the southernmost town in the world—Puerto Williams, on the 55th parallel. Since it’s so shut to the Antarctic tectonic plate, cold air and ferocious temperature blow up from the frozen continent under. No other landmasses extend this far south, so winds from the east race uninterrupted all over the world just before violently crashing into the hike’s namesake dientes, which interprets to “teeth,” in reference to mountain peaks. The outcome is a fickle and risky local weather that earned the route an additional unofficial superlative: the most unpredictable trek in the globe.
Our impending trek would cover anywhere from 35 to 45 miles, based on what route we selected and how precisely our trackers would check our ways by way of mud and snow. 1st trekked in the late 1990s but only officially (and partly) marked in 2016, about 200 people tried the trail on a yearly basis right before its blazing. Considering the fact that then, the selection has absent up to among 1,000 and 1,500 for each yr.
When I embarked, it was approximately 11 P.M. on December 8, 2019, closing in on the longest working day of the year. Thanks to freezing cold rain and extremely deep snow, the path is walkable only all through a small window: around December by the stop of February, the peak of the Chilean summer time. But for the reason that of the mountain terrain, chilly temperatures and snow exist yr-spherical. My companions, solo tourists grouped collectively by guiding business Chile Nativo, are all active kinds: an aerial arts teacher from Tennessee, a specialist kayaker from Chile, an creator who had just just lately hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail, among other folks. We’d stayed up way too late in the bar of La Yegua Loca, our lodge in the city of Punta Arenas, the closest city on the Chilean mainland to Puerto Williams on Navarino Island. The sunlight was only just beginning to go down in spite of the late hour, and as we sat all over the bar desk, we attempted to temper each and every other’s expectations of our climbing prowess ahead of returning to our rooms to kind out our packs and take pleasure in the previous bit of Wi-Fi.
At 9 A.M., we climbed into a nine-person propeller plane for a a person-hour flight from Punta Arenas to the town of Puerto Williams. The winds have been gusting at 75 miles for every hour, and the aircraft looked like some thing out of an Indiana Jones movie: a solitary entrance propeller an open cockpit of cloudy dials and hanging cords. The wind slowly and gradually blew the plane throughout the runway as we boarded, dismally creaking under the excess weight of each individual new passenger as if to protest that it was never meant to carry a whole load.
Laughing at our problems about the weather conditions, the pilots instructed us to buckle up, hold on, and not fret as the winds dropped and lifted us like a paper airplane in excess of the Strait of Magellan. I focused on the glaciers, hovering at the surface area of the choppy and practically frozen sea of the Beagle Channel underneath us.