“It’s hard to straddle a suggestive-looking crevice and NOT fear plummeting to an icy death…”
Patagonia-wise, there seems to be three sites you simply must check off to say you’ve truly been here: Torres del Paine (Chilean side), Fitz Roy (Argentine side), and finally, Perito Moreno glacier (Argentine side). With the first two laboriously— and majestically— carried out, all that was left was the glacier. Perito Moreno glacier happens to be one of the, if not the, most accessible glaciers in the world. One that is on the move (about 2 meters per day). One that is rather magnanimous.
And since we would not be satisfied merely snapping a few photos from the nearby observation decks, as most people do, we opted for a riskier method: trekking on top of it. That’s right, trekking on top of a moving glacier that habitually sheds off some of its razor sharp skin into the frigid waters 60 meters below. Thankfully, there’s a company and a whole slew of people who have the same crazy idea as us. Hielo y Aventura run the gambit in terms of glacier hiking, a very profitable one at that. It sure ain’t cheap but little in Patagonia is. Except maybe wine. We chose the “Big Ice” option, which consists of about four hours on the actual Perito Moreno glacier.
As an added bonus, the tour starts with time at said observation decks. And at 8 in the morning, you’re the first ones there. Which means quiet. Quiet to revel in the ridiculous power of Perito Moreno glacier. With every casual flaking of some of its ice dandruff, the resulting sound would resonate in terrifying ferocity. While humbling to stand in front of such fury, I also cowered at the mercy of my enemy. Will you swallow me whole with one misstep?
“With every casual flaking of some of its ice dandruff, the resulting sound would resonate in terrifying ferocity…”
After a short boat ride— cautiously skirting the temperamental glacier— we started our earthly trek to the entry point. It was a 45-minute preview as we sloughed uphill… the ice to our right, beckoning. Taunting even. Whatever, here we go. Harness attached (“Just in case! Hahaha”). Crampons strapped on. The ice loomed ahead and so we welcomed it with heavy, spiky feet. Eh it wasn’t so scary.
But it wasn’t not scary. There were red flags everywhere. See that arch? It will most definitely collapse on top of you. Notice the enchanting blue crevice? It’s a drain hole sucking the life force out of the glacier… and most likely, yours next. Being the naturally wobbly human I am, trying to avoid frozen death traps became a joke. Like a bull in a China shop, I unintentionally whimpered. I grabbed strangers’ hands. And I got my crampons stuck together many of times. At one point, I needed to use the bathroom. And as the bathroom was a glacier, I was alarmed to find that my, uh, stream was creating a hole in the ice. A substantial hole. So I panicked and tripped trying to GTFO.
“I did feel #gratitude for getting another free stamp in nature’s ultimate passport…”
Regardless, I managed to revel in the glacier’s awe. Ever been to the ice planet in “Interstellar” (f*&$in Matt Damon)? I haven’t yet but this came pretty close. It was other worldly, to say the least. Blue. Jagged. Ancient. We even ate lunch at the center of the glacier, dare I say, the heart (only here is where you can kill a moving glacier). There was no killing, nor embracing, but I did feel #gratitude for getting another free stamp in nature’s ultimate passport.”
Post glacier and post return hike, the boat crew welcomed us back with glasses of whisky on the rocks. Locally sourced rocks, I’m sure. Sitting back, we felt triumphant in our defeat of the beast. So triumphant, in fact, Robbie and I persuaded the crew for a second glass… YEAH. F*&$ you, you, GLACIER! Nah, just kidding. We cool, glacier, we really cool.
Check out this blog by Laura on Location or this one from Thinking Nomads for more information about of visiting Perito Moreno glacier. And here’s another wonderful account of the Big Ice walk by The Counter Intuitive.