Today is the hardest day on the circuit. The first hour is a gradual uphill trek through the forest. Then we hit the mud, and in some places it will be hard to avoid getting your foot stuck in it. This section lasts about an hour, before we come to a large stream which we cross using a rope as a support. Another hour is spent ascending to the pass, over rocks and over snow drifts. The route is marked clearly by fluorescent orange markers on rocks and posts. On reaching the saddle of the pass we come to the view for which this circuit is famous, and more often than not the strong westerly winds will prevent you from lingering too long on the pass. Looking behind us the view is mainly of forest and in the distance the glacial lake we passed earlier is strewn with ice-bergs. However, ahead the view is of the Grey Glacier and it is truly stupendous. The Patagonian ice cap is visible in the distance and the mountains and glaciers below are even more spectacular. In good weather conditions, we can stay on the pass enjoying the view for up to one hour.
Our descent is almost as spectacular as the view from the pass. It is precarious due to its steep gradient and concentration is required. We descend more than 700m in about one hour to Campamento Paso. This camp site is not popular due to little level land and water being available. We continue on down, and the terrain is difficult to negotiate with many fallen trees blocking our path which we need to climb over or walk around. The track ascends and descends the contours of the valley leading out to a natural rock viewing platform, from which a stream cuts through cascading to the Glacier below. This is a great place to have a well-earned rest and perhaps a picnic lunch (if we haven’t succumbed to our stomachs before this). Whilst we may believe that the hardest part of the day is over, we are soon enlightened by the most exhausting section. Here the trees we must climb over seem larger and the ascents and descents more frequent. Our walking is interspersed with a difficult ascent followed by steep ladders taking us out of one of the deep river gorges we cross. We may be tempted to stop for the night at Campamentos Guardas, however it is just one hour (mostly downhill) further to Refugio Grey, where the idyllic bay setting will remind you of a tropical beach, except there are icebergs floating in the water! Cold drinks and a hot meal will never have tasted so good. Overnight Camp Grey.
What you carry: Porters will carry a portion of your gear (maximum 7.5 kg per person). You will need to carry your main pack, with the reduced weight. You may wish to put your day pack into the main pack or consider a pack with a zip off day