Frolic & Detour

Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier

Brian here again. Argentintine Patagonia, take II, let’s dive in: January 16th was a travel day. After breakfast we caught the bus from El Chalten to El Calafate. Rachel and I left A&R at our hotel, and explored the city a little. For dinner we went to a place called Pura Vida Resto Bar, where we enjoyed huge and delicious lamb pot pies and lamb stews. We also played more hearts… I continued to win (last time I’ll mention it, I promise).

On the morning of the 17th we said goodbye to A&R. They had a flight to catch in the afternoon and we weren’t leaving El Calafate until the 18th, so we’d planned our days differently. As I’m writing this about a month later, I can say we’ve really missed them– they’re awesome traveling companions and it was so wonderful of them to combine their vacation schedule with our travels. Rachel and I then set out to explore the Perito Moreno glacier. The glacier is one of the few in the world that is actively advancing. In the summer months, it can advance as much as 2 meters per day. Due to the active advancement, the glacier “calves” regularly (“calving” in the world of glaciers is a bit different than “calving” on the ranch… this one is more enjoyable to watch (too much information?)). When a glacier calves it sheds a chunk of ice, which can be accompanied by incredibly loud cracks (breaking off of chunks of ice the size of small buildings) and great splashes in the lake below. Perito Moreno is currently pushing up against a small hill, on which the Argentinians have cleverly built a series of walkways leading to great viewpoints.

Glaciers are incredible things. That said, it’s a little hard to get perspective, so the pictures below can’t begin to capture the enormity of the thing. Fun facts: The glacier as you see it below towers over the water (and us) at an average height of 74 meters (240 ft). The glacier itself occupies approximately 250 square kilometers (94 square miles), is 30 kilometers (19 miles) in length and is about 400 years old. To put that in perspective, while it’s huge and very old, the largest glaciers in the world occupy about 4 times that space and are thousands of years old. It is one of 48 glaciers fed by the southern Patagonian ice field. It is one of only 3 advancing Patagonian glaciers. That was fun, now pictures:

At the base of the glacier

At the base of the glacier

Wide view as seen from the top of the viewing platform

Wide view as seen from the top of the viewing platform

View to the right-- with a splash ring where a large piece just fell off

View to the right– with a splash ring where a large piece just fell off

go-go-gadget arms!

go-go-gadget arms!

View in front of the viewing point

View directly in front of the viewing area

View to the left of the viewing area (with people as perspective)

View to the left of the viewing area (with people as perspective)

Calving ground

Calving ground

After exploring the walkways for a few hours, we loaded our bus and set out for a nearby dock on the glacial lake. There, we boarded a boat bound for the base of the glacier. At the base we were fitted with crampons, and were led on a 1.5 hour hike on the ice. It was one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.

Rachel getting ready to take on the glacier

Rachel getting ready to take on the glacier

Getting outfitted with crampons (the guy was so distracted with trying to impress Rachel, one of her crampons came off at the beginning of the hike)

Getting outfitted with crampons (the guy was so distracted with trying to impress Rachel, one of her crampons came off at the beginning of the hike)

On the ascent

On the ascent

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Looking at the climb ahead

Looking at the climb ahead

Our group climbing

Our group climbing

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The sun finally came out!

The sun finally came out!

There was running water everywhere, which really makes you confident when you're walking on ice

There was running water everywhere, which really makes you confident when you’re walking on ice

From below

From below

Don't step into the large pool of glacial water!

Don’t step into the large pool of glacial water!

We were super excited about the sun... and took many pictures

We were super excited about the sun… and took many pictures

You can drink the water

Refilling our water bottle

Crazy glacier picture

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View from the dock after the hike

View from the dock after the hike

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