The key to glacier trekking: “Most important thing: feet wide always, small steps when going up– like a duck!”

3 Nov

We finally arrived to el Calafate, the southwestern part of Patagonia (near Chile).  The air is cold, and this makes me very happy. Because of our late arrival, we had a bite to eat and went to bed in preparation for a big day on Wednesday.

I should qualify “big day” for you.  This was the day of our glacier trek. For me, the birth of this Argentine trip was, “When I turn 30, I want to go to the end of the continental world and hike on a glacier.”  My dream also included drinking whiskey with glacier ice upon the summit, as I saw Anthony Bourdain do on “No Reservations” once. Turns out, Anthony’s not the only one who gets to do this!  And so, I have dragged my mom and her 3 shirts, 2 coats, 2 pair of pants, 2 pair of socks, hat, 2 pair of gloves, and a scarf to this fantastic glacier experience. Yes, she wore all this at once.  Don’t worry, we go somewhere hot (bleck!) for her later. 🙂

We arrive by bus to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. The Perito Moreno glacier is here. This glacier is special because it is one of the few glaciers that is stable or balanced. It is also unique because it is rare to have a glacier not only at lower altitude but also one that meets the land. (Imagine: hiking in the woods, la la la, Bam! Glacier).

After our boat ride across Lago Argentino, we hiked approx 15 minutes through the woods. Then, we arrived at small shelters where guides fit our boots with crampons (metal teeth to grab the ice). Thank you, señor crampon for keeping me safe but ripping my boot sole. 😦  (and thanks, Mom, for packing duct tape!)

We trekked for approx 1.75 hours, in a single file line, with our lead guide and a second spry guide who dashed and leapt across the ice with his ice pick in hand to assist us as needed. I must have been slipped some good crack when I thought we could do a 7 hour ice trek, because this was a big enough challenge to reach the summit! Who knew all glaciers were not flat!

The photos will speak for this adventure better than more words, so I have a few picture for you here. Most are on my camera, though, so those won’t be posted until my return home.

My parting thoughts are: 1.) this was as bad ass as I thought it would be, 2.) the enormity of a glacier and trekking on it is a phenomenal experience, and 3.) whiskey tastes damn good poured over glacier ice.

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