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Walking on Ice

   
 Estimated reading time: 2 min. Texts Karina Jozami   Photos Jorge González
Walking on Ice

The mini-hiking to the Perito Moreno glacier has already become a classic and it invites you to visit this famous mass of ice, with deep emotion, adventure, and low risk.

I was anxiously waiting for the minibus which arrived punctually at 8 o’clock in the morning. The weather conditions were optimum: a clear and warm morning, ideal to meet the Perito Moreno glacier for the first time.

The fame of this glacier remains for several reasons: it is the only one in the whole Patagonian glacier basin that is not retreating, but staying in balance. This means that its mass of ice maintains a stable relationship between accumulation and retreat.
Walking on Ice
And to our privilege, it is one of the few glacier formations in the world that is originated at hardly 1,500 meters over sea level, and which descends to the 200 meters. This enables enviable access and observation. But the surprises given by this austral emblem do not end here. The possibility of walking on its icy surface, which ranges over 250 square kilometers, proves a fascinating experience. That was our destination.

We left El Calafate towards the glacier on an 80km-ride along Provincial Route 11, which is in very good condition and surrounded by a beautiful landscape.

Bordering the Mitre River, we took a turn along Provincial Route 15, which is a rubble road, and then we came across Lake Argentino once again. This time, till we reached the coast of the Rico channel.
Walking on Ice
One more bend in the road and there it was. The so-called “curva de los suspiros” (bend of whispers): the first sight of the glacier. In that opportunity, there were no similar expressions, but an expectant breathtaking silence.

After the mandatory stop to take some pictures, we continued a little farther until the driver announced that we would start with the hiking very early. The glacier, which has advanced over the Magallanes peninsula, has closed the path that connects the Témpanos channel with the Rico channel of Lake Argentino, causing the latter to increase its volume in a ratio of five centimeters per day, leaving the pier of the Bajo las Sombras harbor under water. The boat that would carry us to the Southwestern coast was awaiting there.
Walking on Ice
We sailed during 20 minutes, approximately, with our sight lost in the whimsical forms, folds and tones of the ice walls, rising 60 meter high over the lake level.


The glacier at our feet


We arrived in the Southern side of the glacier and descended along an improvised staircase. The mountain guides from the Hielo y Aventura agency were waiting for us there. They divided us into groups according to language, Spanish or English. After a brief chat in the shelter to coordinate the excursion, we started the hiking, first across a little forest of lengas and ñires and then along the border of the lake to the edge of the ice.
Walking on Ice
Our guide, Paula, stopped the march on a small beach to give us a full explanation about glacier formations and the Perito Moreno in particular.
Finally, we got to the area where we put on the crampons and received precise instructions to walk on ice. Now, the glacier was at our feet.
Walking on Ice
We started our way, discovering and exploring that incredible white extension.

Countless cracks, drains, small lagoons and fragmented ice blocks called seracs, form a boundless and captivating space. A little bit more, and everything turned into the universes of Ray Bradbury. Sparkling whites, deep blues, light crystals. Small waterfalls below us, threads of pure water that invited us to drink. Astonished, we continued, without giving our legs or our amazement a rest.
Walking on Ice
In the highest point of our journey, we all turned on our feet in order to see the path.

It seemed incredible to know that, even if it looked impossible, the Perito Moreno slides one and a half meter in its central part and 40 centimeters on its sides every day, thus changing its appearance day by day, and forcing the guides to modify their circuits periodically.

This movement does not imply advance, because the loss of ice mass in the front that is recovered with the new ice collected from the source causes the balance to be kept.

We hardly noticed that about an hour and a half had passed, and with little effort. Behind and ahead: the glacier. We wanted to go on but Paula showed us our way back. I felt like going a little farther.

Half our way back, a sweet surprise: chocolates, whisky and ice, crushed right there to make a toast to our little glacier adventure… and here’s to the Perito Moreno!
Useful Data
Timetables
From 8am to 5pm (approx.)
 
Recommendations
Mini-Hiking Tour:
Limitations: due to the degree of effort and difficulty implied by this tour, it is only suitable for people between 10 and 65.
 
Big Ice:
Restrictions: due to the strong physical demand and soil difficulties, this tour is only suitable for people between 18 and 50 who are physically fit, considering the hike will take 7 hours across ice and forest.
 
To Take into Account:
People with overweight problems should NOT take part in this tour. For such purpose, the following parameters should be considered as NOT SUITABLE: weight in kg surpassing twice their height in cm less 100 (for example: a person who is 1.70m: 170 minus 100 = 70 x 2 = 140); pregnant women; people with any degree or kind of physical or mental disability that might affect their attention, pace and/or coordination; people with central or peripheral heart failure, reduced heart or vascular capacities, or people carrying stents, pacemakers or other kinds of prosthesis; people under anticoagulant treatment, degree III varicose veins -evidenced as thick and multiple-, heart arrhythmia; people suffering from breathing disorders such as EPOC, asthma, emphysema, etc.

 
Contact
Hielo y Aventura
Av. del Libertador 935 (9405) El Calafate - Santa Cruz - Argentina
Tel: +54 2902 49-2205  
e-mail
 
 
Inter Patagonia

Videos
Lake Argentino and Perito Moreno Glacier
More Videos of Patagonia
Characteristics
Level of Difficulty
Medium.
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