On January 7th we disembarked from our ship, said goodbyes to our SOI family and quickly got to the airport to fly to El Calafate - our destination for the next part of our adventure. We arrived exhausted at a lovely hotel: Los Sauces. The next morning we rose early for a quick breakfast- collected our box lunch and traveled north some 110 miles to El Chalten - a hub for mountain climbers and adventure seekers situated close to the Andes Range. The mountain Chalten is named "smoking mountain" because it's usually enveloped in the clouds.
Our destination was Viedma: a large valley glacier whose moraine rich terminus flows into the Western end of Lake Viedma which is formed primarily by its melting ice. Twenty minutes after leaving Chalten we arrived at the pier for our ferry ride to this glacier.
Traveling up the glacial lake we saw the front the glacier as we approached many icebergs.
We remained there for over an hour taking photos.
After getting breathtaking views of the front from the right side we continued to be captivated by a huge collection of icebergs all around us.
We headed out of that area toward the left end of the glacier, docking along a steep granite embankment where we gathered in groups to climb up the granite boulders towards and onto the glacier.
It was steep and challenging on the huge boulders to get to the ice ahead, including climbing a ladder
from one height to another.
We all put on crampons - heavy metal ones quite different from the plastic ones I had stretched over my hiking boots on Kronebreen 2 years and 4 months ago.
Then began a two hour magical wondrous journey up and over ridges with many steep climbs and descents between crevasses.
Our guides would occasionally use their ice picks to make some steps for us for the really steep area, but mainly they just taught us how to utilize the crampons in these more challenging situations.
I diligently followed each and every step of my kind guide Pablo - sometimes gladly taking his hand as he patiently coaxed me along narrow paths of ice winding and wending our way across terrain I cannot believe I was traversing....
I only stopped to photograph when i had his permission. This was not one of those easy shoot and walk kind of a missions...This was definitely the most challenging trek I have ever done!
For almost two hours we embraced views of speckled ice interspersed with deep shades of rich blues of the crevasses surrounding us on all sides.The images I captured were so magical, astounding and so different from my Arctic Circle experience in Svalbard. Clearly, each glacier has it’s own particular personality.
(All our arrangements in Patagonia were made with a great Chilean agency, Santiago Adventures: http://www.santiagoadventures.com).