Friday, April 9, 2010

Hooray for Glacier Hiking.

After arriving in El Calafate post 28 hour bus ride, I promptly signed up for the full day glacier trek on Perito Moreno glacier the next morning; it had been strongly recommended by two people I know that had done it in the past few weeks.

So I got picked up around 7am for an hour and a half ride to the glacier. It was just in time to catch the sunrise, probably the best I’ve seen on my trip so far.

We first headed to view the front of the glacier for about an hour, which has the famous flat face that drops off into the lake. This is one of the few glaciers that is maintaining if not adding ice each year. We saw a few ‘small’ chunks fall off into the lake, causing big ripples and some nice sounds. Every few years there is a massive chunk that falls off.

Anyways, we proceeded to the edge of the lake, where we took a boat across the lake fairly close to the side of the glacier. Walked about an hour on a trail (against a steep forested face!) to a point where we picked up our crampons and a put a safety harness on. I had to rent some hiking boots, sunglasses, and gloves for this trip, and needed all of them in the end (one person told me ‘they burned their eyeballs out’ from the ice glare, another said ‘sunglesses are a must’ haha!) I accepted the advice.

So we saddled up the crampons, got some instructions on how to use them properly, and were off. There were about 10 in my group and 2 guides. I got lucky and had clear blue skies. Its really not that dangerous, but if you don’t pay attention to where you walk and don’t step carefully, I could easily see people slipped, and even falling into wedges, breaking through patches of ice, etc. The guides do a good job, but still you need to pay attention.

We hiked on the glacier for a few hours, over holes and crevasses here and there, after which point I was fairly tired, and so the group broke for lunch. At this point I got to break a little hole in the glacier ice and fill my bottle up with some deeeeeeeeeeeelicious glacier water. Here’s to you, Aquafina! We stopped to individually view a massive hole in the glacier (aided by guides holding our harnesses), in which we peered over and could not see the bottom, I think they said it was 40 or 50 meters). The trek back was another 2 hours, and the guides really were moving this time. I got sick of the cumbersome crampons, and was sure I had a blister. But wow, that was one of the coolest, most amazing sceneries & experiences ever!

Two 5 hour bus rides in store tomorrow plus a 5 hour layover in Rio Gallegos, en route to Punta Arenas, Chile.

The lake and wall of the glacier:

A field of ice peaks:

Mid hike:

The midst of the glacier. Chile is in the distance, and we are also really close to the Pacific ocean over those mountains somewhere.

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