Third Quebrada Bridge

Third Quebrada crossing before bridge
Third Quebrada crossing before bridge

Like the First Quebrada and Second Quebrada bridge sites, the Third Quebrada needed a bridge to improve the safety of both park rangers and backpackers who hike the Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park. This gorge crosses a stream which carries a substantial flow of water. Crossing the stream is difficult at best and impossible when the water is highest.

Like the first two bridge sites, construction of the bridge over the Third Quebrada posed special challenges. This 55-meter bridge is even longer than the first two. Located farther out on the Circuit, construction materials had to be transported a greater distance. Supplies and materials were delivered by helicopter, and then transported by hand to where they were needed. The subsurface conditions at the bridge abutments required significant efforts to construct competent anchorages. The construction team had to contend with the stream crossing multiple times, as well as the weather conditions in Patagonia, which can be challenging.

The photos of the bridge construction below illustrate some of the challenges.

  • South end staked out
    Jessie holding rod for south end stake out
  • First rope across
    First rope across
  • Digging for the abutment
    Digging for the abutment
  • Helicopter delivers materials
    Helicopter delivers materials
  • Moving materials to north end of bridge
    Moving materials to north end of bridge
  • South end excavation
    South end excavation
  • North abutment finished
    North abutment finished
  • Threshold in place, south end
    Threshold in place, south end
  • Tower erection, north end
    Tower erection, north end
  • South portal construction
    South portal construction
  • More south portal construction
    More south portal construction
  • First deck boards, starting from north tower
    First deck boards, starting from north tower
  • Finished south portal & anchorage
    Finished south portal & anchorage
  • Final deck boards
    Final deck boards
  • Third Quebrada bridge completed
    Third Quebrada bridge completed
  • Enjoying the beautiful bridge
    Enjoying the beautiful bridge

A project of this magnitude and complexity required a major team effort. Richard Braunlich again was the sine qua non volunteer, who surveyed the site, designed the bridge structure, recruited volunteers, purchased materials and coordinated the project from afar. We were very fortunate to again have help from Yosemite National Park, which sent two employees to assist on the critical phase of constructing abutments for the bridge.  Helicopter and other local logistical support from CONAF played a critical role in the success of the project. CONAF rangers and ConservationVIP® volunteers, most notably Chris Jackson who led the construction work, supported by his able assistant Jessie Avelar, provided many hours of construction labor. Anonymous donors funded the project. As a result of this collaborative effort, this beautiful new bridge was completed in March 2017.

What Was Next? The Skottsberg Bridge!

Come see Torres del Paine National Park for yourself!
Torres del Paine has been designated a Reserve of the Biosphere by UNESCO because of its exceptional ecological significance. Dramatic granite mountain spires, spectacular glaciers, and haunting winds draw tourists from around the world. The park is home to the guanaco, the Andean condor, the endangered huemul, and the elusive puma. For more information, see our Torres del Paine Volunteer Trip.

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