Jungle Granite

Cochamó, Chile, rain forest, hiking

Hiking through the wet temperate rain forest in the Cochamó valley.

After waiting in the rain in Puerto Varas for a week, we finally got a better weather forecast and headed out for a six day backpacking trip to the impressive Cochamó valley in Chile. We might have jumped the gun by a day or two, since it rained the entire way up; the ten mile hike was totally wet and muddy, with countless bogs and knee deep creeks to cross.

Cochamó, Chile, mist, forest

Mist rising off the forest on a rainy day in Cochamó.

Soaking wet upon arrival, we spent the first night in the Refugio Cochamó, where we dried out a bit and even had a wood-fired shower!

Cochamó, Chile, La Junta, cabin

Cerro La Junta towers above a cabin in the Cochamó valley.

We spent the next four nights camping in our tent in the campground at La Junta, and doing hikes during the days. Fortunately the weather did get better, and we had a number of sunny days mixed in with the rainy days.

Cerro La Junta, Cochamó, Chile

Cerro La Junta : Prints Available

The granite walls of Cerro La Junta (1677m) tower above the temperate rain forest of the Cochamó valley in Chile - November.

The Cochamó valley is known mainly in climbing circles, due to the vast granite walls that rise above the rain forest on both sides of the valley. The locals and resident climbers have blazed a network of trails to access the various walls and peaks – these “trails” are actually often more like roped via ferrate, with seriously challenging scrambling, climbing, and route-finding puzzles up through the steep, thick forest, and over exposed granite slabs. The vista above was a reward of an intense hike that was one of the most challenging (and fun) hikes yet for me in the Andes!

7 thoughts on “Jungle Granite

  1. Wow…looks really wet, Jack. Love the shot with the cabin and the one after. Those are some serious granite walls out there. Keep the updates coming. What’s next on the agenda for you guys?

    1. Hey Justin, our plan WAS to slowly work our way south via Coyhaique, Cerro Castillo, Carretera Austral, Villa O’Higgins, to El Chaltén; BUT, the ferry that would take us towards Coyhaique was fully booked, prompting us to rethink our plans. Bussing it was out of the question, as it would require a super long roundabout backtrack. The only viable option then was to fly. Once we started checking the flights, we discovered that it would make more sense to simply skip the entire Carretera Austral region and fly directly to Puerto Natales in southern Patagonia – which is what we’re doing tomorrow!

      So, although I wanted to see the whole Carretera Austral region and Cerro Castillo, that can wait for another trip, when I can combine it with a re-visit to Bariloche. And this way, we free up a week or two on our schedule to really be able to enjoy southern Patagonia instead of rushing through.

      So anyhow, next on the agenda is a trek in Torres del Paine!

  2. Nice pictures, reminding me of my visit to the Cochamo-vally in 2008. Sad to hear you have to skip the Carratera Austral, because in my opinion (after trekking in Patagonia for 7 months), its the most pristine region of whole Patagonia. On my blog you will find some pics of Patagonia and there’s more to come.

    1. Hi Steve. Yeah, it’s too bad we are missing the Carratera Austral, but really I don’t think we would have had enough time to do it justice anyways – we would have had to rush through there too quickly. Better, I think, to skip it altogether and come back another time when we have more time!

      I am enjoying your blog! Great site… and now bookmarked!

  3. Awesome photos. Happy to hear you had a great time and some decent weather. One of your photos looks like it was taken from the Anfiteatro trail, possible was the worse trail in the valley. We just finished two day intense work opening a new trail into the Anfiteatro and now it’s nothing like the old. Not one rope and easy to follow. Okay, hope you have a great rest of your trip. Saludos,

    1. Hi Daniel, yes, that last photo was taken from the end of the Anfiteatro! The trail was so challenging and difficult, but also a lot of fun too! That’s really a funny coincidence that I may have been the last one or one of the last ones to hike the old trail… Anyhow that’s great that you’ve blazed an easier trail up there; it’s such a spectacular place. I’m not sure but I may have met you guys as we were hiking out, and you were hiking in with your picks and axes…???

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