From the Archives: Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
Glaciar Perito Moreno
My computer crashed the other day: locked up with a blank screen and humming motor, and refused to boot again. I don’t like to speak ill of my MacLemon, but this latest episode makes hard-drive number four in as many years – and I have also replaced a battery. What is worse, of course, is that without my Mac, I don’t have access to my pictures or the Lightroom catalogues they are stored in. Talk about First-World Problems, right?
I’m still waiting for the final verdict. In the mean time, I’ve dug out an archaic PC and found some old picture files from a wonderful trip we took a long time ago – to Argentina – back before I had a digital SLR or access to sophisticated processing. Still, it was nice to revisit the shots.
Lemons to lemonade.
If you want a great day out, I can’t recommend Glaciar Perito Moreno, Patagonia, Argentina, highly enough.
Of course, just to make life interesting, when we visited, our plane from Buenos Aires to El Calafate – the town where we were to be based – took us the long way around: via Tierra del Fuego, that southern-most tip of South America; the jumping-off point to Antarctica.
Although we weren’t allowed out of the airplane, I can still say I landed at the end of the world.
Tierra del Fuego
Flying into Ushuaia – last stop before Antarctica.
In El Calafate we stayed in a hostel – you know: one of those places with ply-board walls so thin you can hear the neighbours breathe (and the rest!) and with dodgy plumbing and no water pressure, so that the water sliding from the shower nozzle down the wall is not guaranteed to be warm.
The next morning, after a very early breakfast of some lightly crisped white stuff they called “toast”, we were bundled, with five other sleepy-headed travelers, our guide, and a driver, into a mini van for the pre-dawn drive to the bottom end of Glacier National Park.
In a cold pre-dawn, we drove to the bottom end of Patagonia’s Glacier National Park.
As for the glacier itself, the pictures tell most of the story. They don’t show the noise, of course. There is nothing quite like the sound of a massive glacier heaving and groaning, especially when you are on it! The resonating booms and drawn-out splashes as bits fell into the water were simply amazing.
As the light comes up, the glacier comes into view in the morning mists, and we see ice pieces floating down the river.
Rock – Mountains – Ice
It’s a stunning and dramatic landscape. The natural bridge over the two pillars collapsed March 13th, only days before our arrival. Apparently the noise could be heard 20 km away.
At the Front
Parts of the glacier sit over 60 meters above the level of the water. We cruise across the front edge.
Boat on Lago Argentino
Another tour boat motors across the huge lake.
Edge of the Glacier
Once our boat was docked, we walked from ‘Refuge’ to a picnic area near the glacier’s terminus; I was never sure if that was the name or just a description.
After we were fitted with our crampons, we started our walk across the glacier. It was surprising to me how rough and dirty the surface was.
While our guide was describing the glacier, I heard what I thought was thunder; it turns out it was just the ice protesting.
Drop something down a crevice, and it might show up again in 200 years.
Ripples on the Glacier
The ice rolls in waves, making walking, even with crampons, difficult.
Have Ice-Pick ~ will Climb
Our guide, unlike me, has no difficulty negotiating the terrain.
Group on the Ridge
Like a caravan of camels on the desert dunes, there was another group in the distance.
The Famous Grouse
As we climbed over the ridge, we saw what we thought was a weather station. It was scotch – which we drank with shaved ice and chocolates.
Crack and Splash
Back at ‘Refuge’ after our walk, we listen to the ice crack off the front of the glacier and splash into the lake.
Everything is impossibly bight – impossibly blue.
The rocks have been well polished by ice and water over eons passed.
Carpet of Ice
View from the walkway at Curva de Los Suspiros. The glacier stretches 30 km (19 miles) in length, and is 5 kilometres (3 mi) wide across at the lake. In spite of pieces falling off, this glacier is actually growing.
Patagonia is famous for its spectacular cloud formations. These lenticular clouds look like UFOs against the blue sky.
Cerro (‘Hill’) Moreno
Our last view of the glacier from the walkway at Curva de Los Suspiros.
Truly a magnificent landscape.
It may not make me feel better about my computer, but it puts life back into perspective.
Hasta la vista!