Twenty-odd years ago I spent a year cycling around Chile, including a couple of weeks on the dirt roads of Torres del Paine National Park. In February of this year, I returned to this windswept corner of Patagonia with news that mountain bike access to the park's hallowed trails had been negotiated by local Punta Arenas-based guide Javier Aguilar.
I was accompanied by riders Rene Wildhaber, Matt Hunter, and H+I Adventures’ Euan Wilson for a reconnaissance trip. We joined Aguilar to explore the potential of Torres del Paine’s often steep, but always spectacular singletrack, and to see if it has the potential to draw mountain bikers as it has hikers for decades.
Photo: Topping out at 9,350 feet, the three granite Torres (left to right: Sur, Central, and Norte) are the park’s namesake and make a spectacular backdrop for our hike up the 5,600-foot high Cerro Paine. While many of the park’s trails offer buff, flowing singletrack, others—like the trail to Cerro Paine’s peak—demand commitment and energy reserves to summit, not to mention courage to descend.
Photos and words by Dan Milner.