a VirtualTourist member
We are a group of 6 that plan to hike the circuit in the beginning of December. Please add any hint you think usable. I know the weather is problematic. Is beginning of December worsens the problem?
Regarding food, I heard in one place you have to carry it with you, at least for the non-W part. Still in another place they say you can buy it in the refuigios on the way (though it is expensive). Any information? which specific refugios has food to buy?
I hiked part of the W January 2012. Much was closed due to the fire and we couldn't do the circuit. We stayed in the Refugios and ate the food at each as well as sleep there. It cut down tremendously on the weight of our packs making for a much more enjoyable trek. The food was great for breakfast and dinner. Lunch, while you get a lot in a brown bag, it was a bit dry sandwich.
I reserved the refugios here: http://www.fantasticosur.com/
I plan on returning now that the complete W is open again and will use the refugios again. As you stated they are a bit expensive. It was about400usd for 4 nights and all meals included. You can purchase the food without sleeping in the refugio. The prices seemed on par with what you would spend on a meal while vacationing. The website above has great information.
The weather's never entirely predictable (it's said that in T del P one can experience all four seasons in one day), but early Dec is summer, and should be okay.