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Torres del Paine History

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Torres del Paine History

The above pictures (l to r): shows the layers of sedimentary rock on top of the harder, granite rock that make up "the Cuernos" in the Torres del Paine; Lago Pehoe and the Cuernos in the distance, and the excellent exhibition of the geographical history of Torres del Paine in the ADMIN centre at the Rio Serrano end of the Park.

Recent Torres del Paine National Park History
The first recorded tourists to visit Torres del Paine was a group of five British aristocrats, guided by local "baqueanos" (native horsemen of Southern Chile) in 1879. Among this group was Lady Florence Dixie who, in 1880, published a book about her travels called "Across Patagonia", describing her adventures and the stunning beauty of the zone. About a decade later, in 1910, the first real tourists began to show. Today, approximately 70,000 people per year visit Torres del Paine. Following in Lady Florence Dixie’s wake were a number of explorers and scientists after which some of the features in the Park are named such as: Otto Nordenskiold, Carl Skottsberg and Alberto Maria de Agostini to name a few. In 1959 the original name given to the Park was “Parque Nacional de Turismo Lago Grey”, but in 1970 it was re-named “Parque Nacional Torres del Paine” (Torres del Paine National Park) and designated by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978.

The Torres of Torres del Paine
The vast Torres del Paine comprises the peaks of Torre Monzino (north)  (2,600m), Torre Central (2,800m) and Torre D'Agostini (south) (2,650m). To the east of the Torres del Paine is the Valle Ascencio.

The Cuernos of Torres del Paine
Cuernos del Paine comprises the Cuerno Principal (2,600m), Cuerno Este (2,200m) and Cuerno Norte (2,400m). To the west of the Cuernos del Paine is the Valle del Frances - one of the glories of the park - a high altitude valley ringed by a curtain of almost vertical rock.

Glacier Grey
The massive Grey Glacier, 7km wide at its widest point and stretching back over 20 km., is still in the process of carving out its own valley to the west of the Cuernos del Paine.

The Southern Patagonian Ice Field
The Southern Patagonian Ice Field (“Campo de Hielo Sur”) comprises a large area of Torres del Paine National Park and includes Glaciers Dickson, Grey and Tyndall. Among the numerous lakes are Dickson, Nordenskjold, Pehoe, Grey, Sarmiento and Del Toro and all of these end up flowing into the Serrano River and ultimately in to the “Ultima Esperanza Sound”, which is bordered by the small village of Puerto Natales.

Brief Geographical History
The "Macizo de Paine" (the central massif) was formed when hot volcanic magma cooled and turned into granite. Over millennia, this area was covered by layers of sediment, compressing to form rock cap over the harder granite below. Over thousands of more years unbelievable geographical pressures forced the entire area to rise up. The area was then covered by glaciers and as they retreated the ice carved away the softer, sedimentary rock to reveal the harder granite columns below. The result is the jaw-dropping site of almost vertical columns of rock that shoot up from the ground like towers, rising to just below 3,000m in height.

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