For a complete change of pace today, Kyle and I will trek in crampons over the Perito Moreno Glacier. This glacier is located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the south west of Santa Cruz province, Argentina. The 97 square mile ice formation is 19 miles in length, and is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in the Andes system shared with Chile. This ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is growing, the reasons for which are a matter of debate among glaciologists. The terminus is 3 miles wide, with an average height of 240 feet above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and an average ice depth of 558 feet. My back of the envelope calculation puts the total weight of the glacier at 40 billion tons which helps to understand how such a formation advancing at up to 6 feet per day can carve valleys from stone. Massive calving events are a frequent occurrence.
We arrived at the glacier mid-morning after a two hour bus ride from El Calafate. We were then shuttled across the lake to the trail head of our trek on a catamaran which afforded us great views of the face of the glacier. After a relatively short hike to its base we were fitted with crampons and began our ascent onto the glacier. A very knowledgeable guide taught us proper ice trekking techniques and gave a series of short lessons on glaciers in general and the Perito Moreno in particular. Our trek concluded with a whisky and glacier ice cube toast (I opted for straight glacier water) before returning by boat to the other side of the lake. An additional hour was spent viewing the glacier from a set of balconies emanating from the visitors center offering a much wider view of the entire glacier. Even with my 17mm lens on a full frame camera I was not able to capture the full width of the glacier in a single photo.