Night of a Thousand Winchings
Our final two days of wheeling on the Twisted Andes Adventure would prove to be the most challenging. Starting in the summer tourist Mecca in Cunco, Chile, we headed out on the Colico – Caburdua into the Andean foothills. With temperatures near freezing and two feet of fresh snow on the ground, the twenty mile route connecting two lakes seemed ambitious in a day.
With a full contingent of 23 wheelers and three local guides we set off.
The first hill showed us how the rest of the trail would be- steep and slick with mud and slop, with minimal traction regardless of tires. On the first climb alone no less than half the group had to resort to winching. Three miles later the hills and holes had conspired with the melting snow to turn the trip into a chocolate sundae sort of look, with sun sparkles keeping us warm as the fresh snow slowly turned to a brown soup. By the time our group crossed the river it was hitting dusk, and with more winch action than trail tracking we turned the group around to fight another day.
The problem was that after 25 some vehicles had churned the earth into a quagmire we had to return through the same mess we had made. By now the trail was impassable without winching, and even that equipment was breaking down. One battery terminal melted from the stress, two cables were rendered useless, and a front driveshaft had failed. All before midnight, some 12 hours after we started. Hence the final day of the Twisted Andes adventure began with 4 rigs hooked together by winch lines in a hill assaulting relay system of anchors and winching. Now known as the Night of a Thousand Winchings, we pulled cable and strapped 4x4s until 7 in the morning, bringing to an end a 1500 mile off road adventured unrivaled in the annals of South American history.