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Lands of Ice and Snow – The Perito Moreno Glacier

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Posted on / by Alex Berger

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

**This post is Part III in my three part series on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Rewind to: Part I or Part II.

One of the most exciting stops along our route was a brief pause at a large waterfall in the middle of the glacier. Easily 8 feet across, the waterfall carved a trough along the surface of the glacier before diving deep into a dark blue hole. As the guide turned and motioned for me to ease towards the lip of the hole, I was thrilled. With him securing my safety harness, I eased up as close as I could to the edge, then leaned out and stared straight down, my eyes hungrily following the water’s course as it splashed of rich blue ice walls and carved away at white crystalline walls. The roar of the falls was mesmerizing and the cool, humid air spilling up and off the waterfall crisp and clean.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

As we wound further onto the glacier, we passed a number of large crevasses. Some of which we would skirt, others we would walk along, and yet others – those small enough – we would carefully jump across, all the while with a large lump in our throats and a sense of controlled adventure in our hearts.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Eventually we reached the half-way mark and the group settled in for our pick-nick lunches. The spot we chose? A small hollow which blocked the wind and some of the light rain. As most of the group casually sat on the ice, enjoying the protection of their waterproof paints I dug around in my bag and fished out a bag. It held a massive, bright orange carrot that stood out in an explosion of color against the grays and blues of our equipment, the sky and glacier. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I saw eyebrows raise, and heads tilt. The thoughts racing through their minds were obvious, “who is this kid, why the hell does he have a giant carrot and how’s he going to manage without waterproof pants – is that really all he brought?”.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

As I contentedly finished my carrot, I took the plastic bag it had come in, kicked out a flat space in the ice, set it down, and then plopped my body down on top of it. Next up? Lunch meat. As I sat there with numb fingers, I set to trying to open two plastic packages of lunch meat I’d purchased. Largely unsuccessful, an idea eventually struck. Before long I’d leaned forward and impaled the plastic wrapper on one of my crampon spikes and had set upon the small pile of lunch meat with a voracious hunger.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Ever one to be inclusive, the third and final course was a large bag of baguettes. True, I could have taken the effort to combine the meats and bread, but my approach seemed more fun and convenient. Especially in light of the chuckles I was getting from other group members who had purchased pre-packaged lunches from the local supermarket. I quickly gave away a couple of the 6 or so loaves of bread that had come in the bag, and chewed away contentedly. As we prepared to move on, one of the guides poured a tin of sweetened matte which he passed around and a few of us shared and enjoyed. It was the ideal desert and re-heated us as we prepared for the trek home.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

As we wound back along the ice we paused briefly for a rush of excitement as one of the group members failed to step far enough, tripped and almost fell into a crevasse. One of the guides as on hand, stabilized him, and helped him the rest of the way across.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

The hike back towards the mountain trail was every bit as good as the trip out to the center of the glacier. Where the view before had been of ice, white, and distant mountains, the view on the return was constantly framed by the imposing presence of the mountains.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Each new view dragged my mind further and further into a fairytale. With fresh air in my lungs, spectacular sights bombarding my eyes, and clean rain drops decorating my face I had one of those incredible moments and relished every ounce of the experience. As the thought echoed through my mind I smiled and whispered, “This…this is why I travel”.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Eventually we found our way back to the base camp where we shed our harnesses and crampons, and then wound back along the path. The end of a hike is usually somewhat boring. Not so in this instance. After the lifeless beauty of the glacier, the wealth of blooming flowers and booming thunder of large waterfalls drew my exhausted feet forward.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

The view of the glacier where it gave way to rain slicked rocks was also completely different. Given the honeycombed nature of the glacier, the ice formations looked new, fresh and unique as we revisited them from a different angle.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

As we wound back down toward the lake, we enjoyed a great view of the glacier’s forward face and another reminder of how small we truly are. Can you spot the ferry, and people out on the glacier in the above photo? They’re both there!

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

The trip had been expensive by backpacker oriented day-trip standards but if looked at from a purely value oriented perspective, it had been dirt cheap. My only real regret was that there wasn’t more time.

The Photographer, Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Eager to keep us together and safe, our guides ushered us along as a fairly constant speed. While this allowed us to see more and was good for the non-photographers among the group, it left me as the constant straggler. Pausing here and there for a quick shot, or a bit of video often set to the background of one of the guides impatiently encouraging me to hurry up and stick closer to the group.

Hiking Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Still, it was only a small annoyance and cost to pay for the opportunity to see, experience, and capture the Perito Moreno Glacier in all of its beauty.

Perito Moreno Glacier - Patagonia, Argentina

Argentina is about much more than just tango and great steak. If you have the opportunity, definitely add Perito Moreno and the Glaciares National Park to your list of must-see destinations.

**This post is Part III in my three part series on the Perito Moreno Glacier. Rewind to: Part I or Part II.

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Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

11 Comments

    Middle Earth? Nope, Just the Perito Moreno Glacier! | VirtualWayfarer
  • Wandering Justin
    February 28, 2011

    I love glaciers. They’re a sure-fire way to get a country on my list. Franz Josef in New Zealand has been my favorite so far, even though Falljokull in Iceland is a lot less traveled. Looks like you had some chilly conditions with all that nice blue ice there!

    Reply
    • AlexBerger
      February 28, 2011

      NZ and Iceland are two places on the top of my list. I’m definitely jealous! It was rather cool for sure. Glaciers are some of the few still growing which is also a plus. It was cool and coming off of winter which no doubt helped!

      Reply
  • CamelsAndChocolate
    February 28, 2011

    Wow! What amazing photos!

    Reply
    • AlexBerger
      February 28, 2011

      Thanks for the kind words. It’s one heck of an amazing place!

      Reply
  • Anonymous
    March 2, 2011

    Incredible photos. I’m so jealous you got to go out on it. I went to Perito Moreno in winter when they don’t run the treks – I think it’s dangerous. You’ve definitely put it back on the re-visit list!

    Reply
    • AlexBerger
      March 2, 2011

      Whew, that sounds intense. How was it in winter? Getting out on it is definitely a blast. My only lament was the lack of an ice cave, but i imagine part of that was due to the weather and there has to be one out/available. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  • Mary @ Green Global Travel
    December 27, 2011

    Wow, just wow. Amazing adventure and photographs. We haven’t been to any snow/ice destinations yet, but hope to in 2012. The glacier is incredible.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      December 29, 2011

      Thanks Mary! I’m not a huge winter activities person, so this glacier was the perfect combination. Doable in the spring/early summer, still pretty cold, but absolutely spectacular once on it. The contrast between the Glacier and the blooming flowers/waterfalls on the mountains to either side was also something that really moved me. I can’t wait to get back out and explore other glaciers soon. Glacial ice caves and some ice climbing are on the list for 2012!

      Reply
  • Jade – OurOyster.com
    December 28, 2011

    Looks awesome! We did a glacier hike in New Zealand but the ice was a little dirtier and we didn’t get those extreme blue colours like you did. It was still awesome though.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      December 29, 2011

      The colors were stunning. It’s great how wide Moreno is. It was really dirty along the sides, but once we got out towards the middle the colors really started to come out. I wonder if there’s a difference as well between glaciers that are growing (Moreno is slightly) and those that are shrinking (I assume the ones in NZ probably are?).

      Reply

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