Route: Torres del Paine (Chile)

Location
Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena, CL
Description

The super-classic, 100+ km Paine Circuit is the premier backpacking route in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. It traverses some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. The much shorter "W" is probably done more often as it covers much of the most best scenery of the Circuit plus allows close up views of the amazing towers & spires for which the Park is justly famous.

 

Note that there seem to have been some new regulations put in place that make it much harder to legally attempt an FKT, as reported by Sunny Stroeer (2/9/2018):

I am currently in Puerto Natales and was hoping to post a women's time for the O Circuit. Given increased park regulations since the 2016-2017 season (and my own recent permit near-SNAFU while setting a women's FKT on Aconcagua's 360 route) I decided to request official authorization from the park rather than attempt to fly under the radar. The current park regulations relevant for distance runners are: 

1) trail closure times at each camp, to prevent hikers from being benighted
2) a morning cut-off time for Paso John Gardner, and the rule that solo hikers may not cross the pass - must be in a party of two or more
3) the mandate that the backside of the O circuit must be completed in counter-clockwise direction (clockwise makes for nicer running!)

As a sponsored athlete I wanted to ensure to be compliant with park regulations, and asked for permission from CONAF. Sadly, I was denied permission for reasons beyond my comprehension - the ones the park administration quoted in their letter to me certainly did not seem like big issues. For anybody hoping to run this loop in the future, please note that you should request permission with plenty of lead time (at least one week, if not more) from Elisabeth Munoz, Regional Director of CONAF in Punta Arenas, who can be reached at elisabeth.munoz@conaf.cl. I am attaching the letter I received from CONAF below, in case it's helpful for future FKT candidates. [Note: I had originally received permission to run the W instead of the O, but then that permission was rescinded at the last minute as well.]


"Estimada Suzanne:

Junto con saludarle y respecto a su solicitud presentada para correr en el Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, informo que esta mañana se ha vuelto a analizar la situación, junto a otros funcionarios de la Corporación y se ha decidido no autorizar tu solicitud por el circuito Macizo Paine, ni por el circuito W, anteriormente propuesto. 

La principal razón dice relación a que los sectores de Montaña del PNTP, en temporada estival (Octubre - Abril), se encuentran con alta demanda de visitantes por lo que su actividad no será compatible con la calidad de la experiencia que ellos buscan. Asimismo es necesario agregar que los guardaparques deberán estar atentos a su presencia por los sectores, procurando que no existan choques o impactos hacia los visitantes por la velocidad de desplazamiento (el sendero W es solo para trekking), lo que los distraerá de otras acciones de seguridad y además acrecienta el riesgo de accidente de los demás visitantes.

Por lo anterior, es que estaríamos dispuestos a analizar su propuesta, dada la especialidad de corredora de montaña, en otra oportunidad; donde se deberá presentar esta solicitud con la debida antelación, para ser realizada en temporada de baja afluencia de visitantes en montaña (mayo -agosto), acreditar su especialidad deportiva, junto a las demás condiciones expuestas por la Srta Ximena Alvarez en su respuesta anterior."

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