Glaciar Perito Moreno

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014

Glaciar Perito Moreno
Coodinates:  50°29′ South    73°03′ West

 

El Calafate as a town has not one touristic attraction. Its raison d’etre is to support the tourism to the nearby Perrito Moreno glacier in the National Park ‘Los Glaciares’. They say it’s one of the worlds remaining ‘healthy’ glaciers experiencing a consistent ice flow progressing at about 1.5 metres per day. The glacier itself is an impressive construction standing in parts at 70 meters high it’s a moving, wrenching, cracking, ever-changing wall of ice disintegrating at its outer edge as slabs of ice – often weighing many tons – break off from the superstructure and plunge into the water below. If you’re waiting on one of the many platforms for about an hour you have a very good chance of seeing this happen.

 

 

There are many boat tours and mini ice-trekking adventures which one can do to accompany the visit to the glacier but I chose the most basic option – to walk the platforms for several hours and indulge in the almost hypnotic action of staring at the glacier, listening to the enormous rending sounds as the ice grinds against itself in some battle of the forces of nature. An explosion, only strung out over a geological time-frame.

 

When listening, I would hear this great cracking sound and quickly scan for the source of the commotion only to see is relatively small chunk of ice fall from above and splash into the water below. Somehow the size of the sound belied the small ice-flow which ensued however on occasions much large sections of the glacier would break away and these were awesome to behold. One always hopes to catch such a scene on video but the constant cracking sound and seemingly random nature of the breaks makes it very difficult to begin filming before the fall takes place. Fortunately I had earmarked a slab which had been left ICEsolated by earlier breakings and when I saw small chunks crumbling away from the base I immediately whipped out the camera and began filming and it was not a moment too soon because almost immediately this entire slice, a good 40 meters tall, peeled away from the glacier and fell almost in slow motion to the water below. As it submerged it disappeared for a period below the surface as the water on all sides rushed in to fill the void in a whirlwind of frothing spume which sent waves outwards towards the shores of the lake. Some long seconds later the ice remerged and bobbed about, moving as it sought to find its equilibrium in the water.

Over a four hour period I saw three such chunks fall, but caught only one in video as I walked the kilometres of raised boardwalk staring at the glacier from different angles. It’s an impressively large body of ice to be moving at 1.5 meters per day and interesting to think that the glacier which I saw has already disappeared, replaced by a different face for a different crowd.

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