We did this hike after taking the boat to Grey Glacier. We wrongly assumed that purchasing a roundtrip ticket on the boat would enable us to get off the boat and hike to Paso John Gardner where we could see the southern Patagonian ice sheet. It turned out that we needed to have purchased two separate one way tickets if we wanted to get off the boat. With the roundtrip ticket we weren’t allowed off the boat when it stopped to let people off and pick people up. Since our plans for our big hike were thwarted, we spent a good amount of time on the boat looking at the map to determine what hike we could do to take it’s place. We landed on Mirador Ferrier, even though we were skeptical when the map said a very short trail would take 2 hours one way.
The trailhead for Mirador shared the parking lot with the one for the Glacier Grey boat. When we got to the trailhead there was a sign that showed us at almost sealevel and the trail rising up to 700 meters (2300 feet). It also told us that we needed to register with the park ranger. We found the park ranger and I wrote down my information in the trail register. We were a little confused why they wanted us to register for a hike to a mirador. We quickly found out why: the trail went straight up without the help of steps (although sometimes there were ropes or metal handrails that were made for giants). A fall could be very dangerous and anyone stuck out after dark also ran an increased risk of running into a puma!
The trail started out along a meadow but we quickly left the flat section behind and began the climb straight up the mountain. We weren’t entirely sure where we were headed, since the trail was narrow and mostly obscured. We just knew we were heading UP. As we climbed, we occasionally glanced glimpses of the view we’d see at the top but nothing could prepare us for how amazing it actually was up there.
We got to the top and the entire Lago Grey and Rio Pingo valleys opened up before us. We could see down the glacier studded Lago Grey, out to Paine Grande and Grey Glacier. Up to various other glaciers and back towards to the Southern Patagonian Ice Sheet, the second largest extrapolar ice region in the world (behind only Greenland). Behind us, Mount Ferrier, still an imposing 900 meters (~3,000 feet) higher than us. Back the way we came we could see the lakes that make up much of Torres del Paine National Park, including Lago Pehoe (where we were staying), Lago Nordenskold (that trekkers of the “W” and “Circuit” become very familiar with), and Lago Sarmiento. Finally we could see the road that brought us from Park Headquarters to the Grey Glacier sector, with dust plumes indicating the location of a handful of vehicles driving down it.
Although the map said it would take 2 hours each way for the trip, we managed to make it up to the top in about 1:15. We took some breaks but kept them short and in general tried to stay moving the entire time (Strava says our moving time on the uphill was about 41 minutes). On the way down we kept up a good downhill hiking pace, since Jason didn’t want to damage his amazing new camera lenses with too much jostling, and our legs were pretty sore from the rest of our hikes. Even so, we managed to make it back to ranger station with a door to door total time of 2:13 (Strava says moving time was 1:15). Please keep in mind this isn’t your typical hike in Torres del Paine. Although it’s not long, it is steeper than anything you’ll see on the “W” or “Circuit” trails. It’s also looseand you should be a strong hiker if you want to do this one.
Hike stats: 3.9 miles, 2173 feet elevation gain, 2:13:20 total time (1:15:02 moving time), details on Strava (including walking back from the Grey Glacier boat)