Along the Great Divide

Story Roseann Hanson          Images by Jonathan & Roseann Hanson


It took us most of the morning to skirt the eastern shoulder of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.

To our left, shimmering at the edge of the golden steppe, lolled the tongues of Grey and Perro glaciers and the eponymous lakes into which they slowly melt each year under Chile’s austral summer sun. Above them were the impossibly jagged towers of our destination, wrapped coyly in bruised-white clouds and evading full view: the Torres del Paine.


The Nissan’s tires had churned out silky grey glacial dust for hours and hours, and yet the three Torres seemed to remain exactly the same size, never growing larger and ever teasing us with the wanting to be there, to finally see one of the most legendary of places on our Bucket List. This phenomenon was our introduction to the First Law of South American Travel: An object in the Andes stays on the horizon at exactly the same place for a very, very long time.


We crested yet another hill and suddenly they were there. They literally took my breath away—deep blue-black shards of rock and ice shooting up impossibly high, a full 9,300-plus feet filling all of my vision.