Perito Moreno - I Came, I Saw, I Conquered

El Calafate Travel Blog

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In front of the massive Perito Moreno Glacier.

Today I did the Big Ice tour, run by the company Hielo y Aventura. 

The day began at 5:50am when I woke up sans alarm - probably subconsciously I was afraid I´d oversleep.  I showered and packed up.  (The night before, I had removed everything from my pack, and repacked it with only the few items I´d need for the glacier trek - fleece, shell, waterproof pants, gloves, hat, sunglasses, lunch.  I left the rest of my stuff in a duffel bag at the hostel.)

The bus picked me up at 7am and we began the drive to the glacier.  Once again I was plagued by someone´s BO.  I couldn´t pinpoint exactly who it was, but it seriously made me sick to my stomach.  The 1 hour drive couldn´t end soon enough.  As we drove toward the glacier, I was eyeing the skies.

Experimenting with exposure.
...dark and cloudy.  Yikes.

After paying for the entry to the park, we stopped at los balcones to view the Perito Moreno glacier head-on.  This thing was huge - but they say it´s only about 1/3 the size of the largest glacier in the park (but that glacier is apparently too hard to get to, so Perito Moreno is the famous one).  We sat at the mirador / balcones watching and hoping for some ice breaks.  CRASH!  We saw one, cool!  But after 30 minutes, our time was up - we had to stay on schedule and catch our boat.

Down at the dock, we boarded a small boat which took us to the base of the glacier via a 15 minute ride.  From there, we scrambled up the rocks to a small set of cabins where we met our hiking guides.  We filled out safety / health forms, and got the briefest of briefings on the glacier hike, and then set out on our way.

On the boat heading to the glacier.

After about 15 minutes, we came across a small dome tent.  Here, we were fitted with our crampons (which we didn´t put on yet, we just put them in our pack).  Then we continued up along the side of the glacier (on the dirt/rock/mountain side, not on the glacier yet).  After another 30 minutes, we came across another dome tent.  Here, we were fitted with harnesses.  We were not going to be roped together.  But these harnesses I guess were so that if we did fall into a crevasse, rescuers could lower a rope which we could hook into our harness (assuming we were still alive and conscious) and be pulled to safety. 

About an hour after setting out on the hike, we hit the ice.  We paused for a few minutes to put on our ice gear - which for me included my waterproof pants, goretex jacket, gloves, and crampons.

Fitted with crampons. Sweet.
  We got another brief lesson on how to walk with crampons, and then we set out.

During the hike, I met three guys from the Stanford business school program.  We chatted off and on through the day.  Cool guys.  And if they are reading this - good luck the rest of the year, guys!

We walked for about 2 hours up the side of the glacier and then into the middle of the glacier.  We stepped over crevasses, jumped over rushing water, peered down big sink hole type things, climbed up and down steep cliffs (ok only like 1-2 meters high, but still...), and I even tested the water.  Brrr.

It was truly amazing just how big this sucker is.  I can´t remember the exact dimensions.  You can wikipedia it.

My crampons worked like a charm! I survived!
  But as I mentioned above, this isn´t even the biggest glacier in the territory!

After about 2 hours, we paused for a picnic lunch on top of the ice.  I quickly downed my sandwich and then spent my rest time recording some video.  After a few takes, I settled on one suitable for you, my viewing audience.  Enjoy. 

Unfortunately it started to rain, so we packed up lunch and started the trek back down the glacier, and to our boat.  As usual, though, the weather changed constantly, so it actually only rained for a few minutes.

Back on the boat later that afternoon, the guides pleasantly surprised us with a glass of whiskey.  Rumor was the ice cube in it was "glacier ice", but I have no way to verify that.

A toast to Perito Moreno!
  Sure sounds cool, though, huh?  I even had a second glass....shhh

Later that evening, I met up with my friend Cynthia for the barbecue at our hostel, and then games of chess and Connect Four.  We quickly realized we are both bad at chess, and I´m bad at Connect Four, so we headed out to a bar to meet up with my Glacier buddies from Stanford GSB  - Mike, PJ, and Tom. 

A few beers and travel stories was a great way to close out this "Big Ice" day. 



mellemel8 says:
i need to come back for this.
Posted on: Dec 17, 2008
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In front of the massive Perito Mor…
In front of the massive Perito Mo…
Experimenting with exposure.
Experimenting with exposure.
On the boat heading to the glacier.
On the boat heading to the glacier.
Fitted with crampons.  Sweet.
Fitted with crampons. Sweet.
My crampons worked like a charm!  …
My crampons worked like a charm! …
A toast to Perito Moreno!
A toast to Perito Moreno!
Straddling a crevice
Straddling a crevice
Out on the ice
Out on the ice
The trail along the glacier
The trail along the glacier
Sunset back at the hostel America …
Sunset back at the hostel America…
My new friends and me out in El Ca…
My new friends and me out in El C…
I just had to see how cold the wa…
Our trek across the glacier inclu…
We hiked across the glacier, and …
El Calafate
photo by: Vlindeke