A Freak Accident Near Torres del Paine

This has been an unusually fatal season in Patagonia, but on Feb. 8, the strangest accident in years happened near Torres del Paine.

As Biobiochile reported, a tourist group on horseback was close to Lake Nordenskjold, at the foot of Torres del Paine. Suddenly, the hat of one of the clients blew away into the lake. The group’s guide, Bruno Barria Matamala, decided to wade into the icy water on his horse to retrieve the hat.

But something went very wrong, and only the horse emerged from the lake.  The guide has been missing since then.

The outfitter, Reserva Las Torres, for whom Barrio Matamala was working, released a statement saying that the Navy has been leading the search for the body of the missing guide, aided by Chilean police and the outfitter.

So far, even an underwater robot has turned up nothing. Lake Nordenskjold is 200m deep, and its water is so turbid that visibility is only about 25cm. The surface of the lake is 28 square kilometers.

Lake Nordenskjold was named after the Swedish scientist and polar explorer Otto Nordenskjold, who visited Patagonia in 1895. It overlooks one of the most beautiful views of Torres del Paine.

This is not the first wilderness fatality due to a hat. Canadian thermophysiologist Gordon Giesbrecht of the University of Manitoba tells of an Alaskan snowmobiler who was crossing a lake when his hat blew off. Believing (erroneously) that you lose 90 percent of your body heat through your head, the snowmobiler circled around to fetch it. He broke through the ice and drowned.

“He died for his hat,” said Giesbrecht.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.