For those of you that don’t understand the Anchorman reference, please take 30 seconds to watch this.
As you may know, we have been hiking in Argentinian Patagonia for a couple of weeks. Until our latest adventure, all of that hiking has been on land. Today we mounted a glacier and it was un-freaking-believably fun!
The glacier in question is the Perito Moreno glacier in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (Glaciers National Park) in southwestern Argentina. Our trip started with a bus ride from El Calafate to viewing balconies where we got a small sense of its enormity. The wall you can see here is about 20 stories tall. One of the photos has a huge viewing boat in front of it for a bit of size perspective.
From the viewing balconies you could hear the ice cracking and occasionally see huge chunks of the glacier fall into the lake. We got to see a few of these and heard more – each one sounded like one of those nearby claps of thunder followed by a fat guy doing a cannonball into a pool. It was very sudden so we didn’t get great photos of it, but we did manage to get a photo of part of the crash:
None of those photos were touched up or altered at all – the glacier is really that blue. Since this was our first up-close-and-personal with a glacier, we were impressed. Very impressed. But we still knew the payoff was still to come: 4-5 hours of hiking on the actual glacier.
From the viewing balconies, we took a short boat ride in the glacier-fed lake to the beginning of our hike. After a short 50 minute hike on land, we geared up to get on the glacier with our stylish crampons provided by our tour company.
Pretty obviously, we didn’t bring our glacier hiking gear with us on this round-the-world trip. So we rented boots and gloves (the glacier, being ice, is pretty darn sharp and will cut your hands if you fall and catch yourself) and just wore our typical hiking gear. As our guides told us repeatedly throughout the trip, we won the weather lottery. The mountains in the background of many of our photos had been completely obscured for the previous two weeks. No complaints here! Not only was the sun shining, but there was almost no wind which is unheard of in Patagonia. Anyway, we crossed a small creek, cramponed up a nice hill and were on the glacier. The views didn’t disappoint.
We were not unhappy:
Much to our happy surprise, walking on the ice and with crampons on rented shoes was not at all hard. We also picked the right guide (we broke into into 4 groups), who made our glacier hike even more of an adventure by leading us to small glacier rivers we had to jump over, across narrow ice ridges, and up and down steep ice slopes.
We made several important discoveries during our hike. We learned that glaciers have waterfalls:
We learned that glaciers have sinkholes that fill with glacier water. Again, these photos have not been enhanced at all:
And we explored glacier caves:
After about 2-3 hours, we reached our lunch spot – a glacier lake! Probably the most spectacular part of the whole trip:
After lunch, we frolicked on the glacier as we made our way back to the boat that would take us back home.
Getting back on land and then back on the boat was a major bummer. As we slumped back aboard the boat, though, our fantastic company (Hielo y Aventura) gave us the hot fudge on top of our sundae: Famous Grouse whiskey on actual glacier rocks! Needless to say we enjoyed this unexpected treat!
This was definitely one of the best two or three experiences we have had together on any trip, probably second only to our Machu Picchu trek. The experience itself was fantastic and all the peripherals (guide, company, group, weather) fell perfectly into place as well. Just an unforgettable day.