Down southern Argentina, there is an area known as Patagonia, and in Patagonia, exists the Perito Moreno glacier.
Accessed from the small town of El Calafate, the Perito Moreno glacier rests in icy waters amongst mountains, and protrudes from the waters of Lago Argentino like jagged knives. 250 km squared, 30 km long, and 5 km wide, it has an average height of 74m above the surface of the water, and a total ice depth of 170m below the water. As the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water (you can drink directly from the lake and bright blue crevasses), it will hit home with you just how important it is to protect these areas at all costs. The Perito Moreno glacier is one of only three glaciers that is still growing.
We had a fantastic guide named Juan, who made jokes along the way (such as sacrificing climbers by throwing them down a deep crevasse – annually), and made sure everyone was safe. It’s easy to trip yourself up and slide down the glacier, so making short, flat steps with your crampons is vital. Juan told us about a Scottish tourist who died on the glacier a few years back. There’s plenty of crevasses and the ice can be as sharp as glass at some points, so we tried to not envision the bloody death this climber must have endured. Juan said that there’s a rumour about a ghost on top of the glacier, and some people claim to see the apparition on the rare occasion.
What do you really say at this point? You’re halfway up a glacier, there are deep crevasses everywhere, and if you slip, it’s a hell of a long way to the bottom. You are also surrounded by subzero waters, so you’re basically dead like this Scottish guy. As Juan took us to the top of the glacier where the Scottish tourist got killed, he said “Now let’s see if we will see the Scottish ghost.”
Sure enough, when we reached the top we did. It was a dark golden Scottish ghost. In a bottle, called Chivas Regal! Juan’s climbing partner had gone ahead of us and set up a mini bar, where he gave us Chivas Regal in a glass of glacier ice (that he hacked off the side of the glacier), and cookies. It was a nice touch. After this, we descended down the glacier and explored the forest at the base, and tended to the boardwalk for a closer look at the face of the glacier. We were lucky enough to hear and see three carvings – thunderous cracks which preceded massive fallings of ice. The giant ice carvings splashed loudly, and created waves in Lago Argentino.
Hielo y Aventura is the company we used, and they offer different treks depending on your needs. This is one of the coolest experiences we have had, and coupled with the Monte Fitz Roy trek, Patagonia is an area that should not be missed, but prioritised.