A 'day off' spent on a glacier hike.
02.12.2012 - 02.12.2012
2nd December ‘Rest day’ in El Calafate
Up early for our 7am pick up for our BIG ICE day out on the Perito Moreno Glacier. It was a pleasant one hour bus ride to the NP where our first stop was the land-based view of the glacier. Very impressive. I’ve seen a few glaciers before and have even trekked and camped on them, but with a 5km wide terminal face, the Perito Moreno Glacier is breathtaking. The viewpoint is right in front in the middle, so you get a good view when chunks of ice calve off, which we saw happen. The glacier moves at a rate of about 2m per day in summer, slower in winter.
Let me say now that the colours you see ARE real. I’ve not Photoshopped anything. With the overcast day early on they’re probably more muted than usual. Awesome blues that when we discussed, ‘What shade of blue is that?’ could only come up with ‘glacier blue’.
Next we crossed the lake by boat to the shore next to the glacier. This gave us good views of the glacier from water level.
The weather so far today had not been kind, with drizzle most of the time. We then gathered and hiked through forests up the side of the glacier for about an hour. There we put on a harness and attached crampons (not a typo) which are metal ice spikes, to the bottom of our shoes. This allowed us to walk on the ice without slipping. We then spent an exhilarating 4 hours clambering over and through the crevasses that make up a glacier. It was like a maze trying to get to the centre and back. Our group of 10 had two guides and they’d hack steps into the ice with their axes to get us into some really fun places. Lunch was had on the glacier. I really loved the beautiful blues that I’d find in little pools in the ice. The ice in the centre is several hundred metres thick. That’s a lot of fresh water locked up for the 400 hundred years it takes to make it from the top to the bottom.
Did I mention we walked under a waterfall and got soaked? This is me on the return one hour hike back to the lake to catch the boat. On the boat we were all given a glass of whisky with a chunk of glacier ice in it. Nice finish to and awesome day. Please enjoy the following photos.
Looking down a very deep hole water-filled hole in the ice. The glacier here is several hundred metres thick.
The guide is hacking steps for us.
The black rocks absorb the heat, allowing them to melt and penetrate the ice.
Lunch on the ice. Here's the 6 of us from Bike Dreams.
Michelle and Tamsin.
Getting back was just as challenging.
Walking under a waterfall.
The world is full of amazing places, but every now and then, I feel I’m in somewhere truly special. Today was one of those days. Perito Moreno glacier is so much more than just a glacier. It’s a moving, ever-changing palette of nature the best artist at work sculpting and then destroying the most beautiful shapes. I feel so privileged to have had such an intimate experience.
Final view from the bus as we left. What a great day.
I now know where the name Tres Lagos came from. It IS three lakes. I found them here near El Calafate. All three are massive and are fed by glaciers coming off the Patagonian ice shelf. Whilst Tres Lagos might not be next to them, it’s close enough that I can see how it got its name.
Back to town at 7pm, 12 hours later, quick shower, dinner and then bed made me feel like I’d not had a rest day, but I’m not complaining. It was fantastic.
Glaciers are really cool.