I treated myself today. After finding out that I may be eligible for a partial refund on my delayed flight into Buenos Aires, I decided to spend that money (and then some) straight away before finding out that I won’t be getting it.
So I booked myself the Big Ice trip, an entire day of glacier walking. I’d done this once before and loved it, so here was my chance to do it again. I even put on the same trousers as last time. There’s no need to ruin a second pair of pants with the crampons after all. We set of at 7am in El Calafate but it would be past noon before we actually reached the ice. We stopped at the Perito Moreno view point (that’s how I know how much broke off. Then took a boat over the lake and hiked up the mountain next to the glacier for about 50min. During all this time it was raining. Along the way you run into a nice little waterfall.
We’d already been told that we don’t need to bring much water because you can “get it everywhere”. The waterfall was one such option. I refrained from tasting it as I had a full bottle, but did try the water on the glacier later on and it was absolutely delicious. Although I have to admit that the bottle I brought back home didn’t taste half as good the next morning.
Around half pas twelve we finally set foot onto the ice and my camera went crazy. I’m pretty sure it must be a firmware issue. There’s no way I took 400 pictures that day. Come on.
The glacier experience was quite different from the one we had in Iceland. I was looking forward to the little dirt cones we’d seen there, but none of those existed. Instead real rivers ran on and in the ice. The ice we walked on was like crushed ice. Loose and in small chunks, which is apparently due to the summer heat and not the fact that it was still raining.
The guides led us on a rather random path. We started out down a rather steep slope. I was a bit worried if that’s the start how the rest is going to be, but in retrospect they probably just wanted to test us out. The rest was much easier. In general the guides will tell you that the hardest part is the hike up to the entry point onto the ice. It’s not entirely true, the hike on the ice is challenging, but indeed no more so than the hike up. If you managed that you’ll also manage the rest.
Each group used their own path to make its way to the ‘top sights’, there is no beaten path and the guides are seemingly free to walk you wherever they please. Nothing seemed to be caved or predefined.. Although with the rain I would imagine not much would’ve remained if they had had carved a way into the ice.
But they will all show you everything: big blue holes, small caves, the river. There’s no need to choose ‘the right group’.
Meanwhile, two hours into the glacier hie it was still raining and the wind had picked up. Our guide decided that it was time for lunch, despite the weather and we huddled in a corner and ate our lunch as quickly as possible. This was the breaking point for a part of our group unfortunately. One of them had torn a muscle earlier on and the weather made them stop wanting to try. They turned around. That’s also possible, although not encouraged. One of our guides went back down with them while we continued on to the arc. The main camera malfunction must’ve happened there.
I have about 60 pictures from the arc alone. Next to the arc is a tunnel that just begs to be investigated and you could climb in as far as you like.. provided you know how to get back out afterwards. While I was in the tunnel it stopped raining, only I didn’t notice because I had melting ice dripping down on me constantly. But on our way back down, the sun even came out and revealed the entire glacier to us. Amazing scenery. The color of the ice and the glacier front don’t change much, sunshine or rain.. But being able to see the mountains in the background sure adds a lot!
Once we finally returned onto solid ground, we proudly asked how far we’d gone onto the ice and our guides told us that in total we’d walked about 1.5km.. It sure did feel much farther than that!