2012-02-11 09.17.17 copy

AFTER four hours of strenuous hiking, we had only just reached the bottom of the Torres del Paine. You can see the three granite monoliths from seemingly a hundred miles away (and on just about every postcard of Patagonia), but the full magnitude of their facades was revealed only after the last turn on the mountainous trail. We sat down, panting, and looked across a glassy, marble-green lake at the summits, reaching more than 9,000 feet into the sky. Despite their size, being so near to them felt strangely intimate.