French Valley – Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
French Valley was probably my favourite part of the Torres del Paine trek in Patagonia. The classic ‘W’ route takes in the beautiful Glacier Grey and of course the Torres themselves, but French valley, which is so often overlooked, was a true highlight of the walk. As I ascended the track I was dwarfed by the grandiose mountains either side of me. Thrust up millions of years ago, these towering leviathans watched on, as I pushed onward to the viewpoint. The top of French Valley is shaped like a bowl and as I looked back towards the turquoise shores of Pehoe lake, surrounding me were the soaring peaks of the staggeringly beautiful Torres range.
On the way back down I sat and ate my lunch and watched in awe at the face of Cero Catederal as every few minutes avalanches rushed down its slopes as glaciers gouged their way through its jagged peaks. The thunderous roar of an avalanche and the boom of car sized chunks of ice falling was one of the most awesome spectacles of nature at work I have ever seen. I felt like I was sitting front row centre in a National Geographic documentary. As I feel asleep that night, I was already bursting with excitement for the next part of the hike.