Once again, let’s step back to 2007, this time to reminisce about the glaciers of Patagonia, Argentina …
May 6 ‘07
I’m in the sala of the Montevideo Hotel in El Calafate. It’s a small sunken living room with a big fireplace, brickwork and stucco, beautiful wood ceilings, dried flowers, iron candlesticks, mahogany-framed photos of glaciers calving, local paintings of local glacier scenes, a cement bench around the perimeter of the room covered in burgundy cushy pillows (very Trading Spaces) with mahogany furniture and I am in a mahogany Adirondack chair covered with earth-toned pillows. Logs are piled into a wood space built in next to the large fireplace and crude mantel. There’s a small plasma TV, discreet internet station and hidden speakers, and it’s a fabulously cozy little place. Adjacent is the helplessly snug little chic restaurant. Am v happy.
May 7 ‘07
Today I went to the Pedro Moreno Glacier. I think only some really outrageous scuba-diving experiences could possibly compare to the awesome sense of privilege I have ever had to see something of this magnitude that exists in nature.
I found these beautiful autumn colors in the surrouding mountains just amazing — trees on fire with russet and golds, right alongside this vast blue-white field of icy peaks fissuring down into deep blue channels. During the morning hours I got a close-up view of the glacier from the vantage point of a boat trolling right up against the glacier wall.
As far as the glacier itself, I have never seen blue like this in my life. It resembles marble, but translucent to a degree and colored varying shades of vivid blue, from almost-white power blue at the top to deep electric blue at the bottom. It has streaks and veins running throughout, deepening to a clear dark sapphire down by the base where time has compressed layer upon layer of ice to resemble colored veined glass. It all looks lit from within, too. You can hear the thunderous booming of glacier chunks shearing off the wall, on the inside and out, and the echoing through the fissured ice resounding long after the noise had stopped. More often than not you couldn’t see the calving, you could only hear it; these were internal calvings. We’d see big chunks of deeper blue ice floating in the water from the internal calvings. It is what I imagine a diamond must look like in extreme closeup. Soledad, our tour guide, says she comes to the glacier every day and that every day it is different.
The glacier lake water was like no water I’ve ever seen before — I wouldn’t call it cloudy but thick spearmint blue, dense with floating ice. I’ve never really given much thought to the properties of ice over time, until now. The end of this ice field, as it shears off and drops into the ethereally blue Lago Argentina, is fissured with pristine white peaks sticking up, like points on a meringue, with the grime of the surrounding mountains its browned tips. It’s a musical instrument, fissured all through with ever-changing chambers and the wind and the sound blowing through it make a uniquely resonant, haunting tone that sings for miles.
I met a fun chick from England named Filly, also traveling alone, who took pictures with me and we drank whiskey over glacier ice. Coolest cocktails ever. All afternoon, after the boat ride, we hung out for hours at another part of the park that had walkways with several different vantage points along the north face of the glacier, and every overlook was another incredible opportunity to gaze at the phenomenon before our eyes. I just couldn’t believe I was seeing and hearing this, and all I wanted to do was sit and stare and listen to the unearthly crack/booming noise of the calving — at one point a blue cliff jutting over the water just disintegrated and hit the base of the glacier in an explosion to a pile of white dust and blue chunks. BOOOOM, waterfall, with the echoes bouncing and reverberating and prolonging the actual event so long. It also was surprisingly not freezing cold. I did have long underwear over several layers, but one would think that everything surrounding a glacier would be covered in snow or dead, unable to live. Instead it was a beautiful autumnal mountain scene and surprisingly comfortable to stay outside for hours and look at this glacier, which is all you ever want to do.
Here are a few snaps from that day; a bigger glacier photo gallery is up next. It’s a beautiful Sunday, so peace out.