So before I get to the glacier story, I have to tell you about the dinner i had last night. My romantic and rather filling dinner for one. The lady at the hotel recommended a local Parilla (Argentinian grill) called Don Pichon. It was an expensive looking place with candles and magnificent views. Naturally not a place for single blokes to be having dinner, but it did come highly recommended. I was quite hungry so I ordered an entre of a beef empanada, kind of like a small beef pastie. I also ordered a big bottle of Patagonian beer. So far things were not too bad. For mains I ordered a special “Patagonian Lamb”. Not long after a small grill with hot coals in it was place on the table with half a sheep on it. I’ve never seen so much lamb before. There was enough to feed a small African republic. The lamb was very succulent and delicious. I’m not sure how the seasoned it or cooked it but it was sensational. I felt awful sending nearly half of it back unable to eat any more. I figured the next day would be a hard day so a bit of food now would be good.
So this leads onto glacier day. There was no stuffing around for me, I booked for the “Big Ice” tour as it was know. The tour to sort out mere mortals from the pretenders. The tour that I’m sure Bear Grylls took for his TV show. If a pooncy british survival guy can do it then so can I. They say before doing this trip that generally age 18-45 only and must be a good level of fitness. They have turned people away, or so i’m told. Yep thats me, one look and I’ll be rejected. Confidence was low. The first part of the trip was a walk along the viewing trail and balconies, to see the glacier. The Perito moreno glacier, has a unique viewing point, being a mountain right in front of it with water going to the left and right of the mountain. This meant we could look right at the beast. It was spectacular, but we all wanted to walk on it.
At this stage the group seemed a lot more friendlier than the tour i took the other day. A good mix of nationalities, and I was flying the flag solo for Australia. Just call me Justin “Sir Douglas Mawson” Watson. We caught a boat across one of the lakes to get to the other side and we had a short walk up the hill for a briefing. Some times were mentioned but the spanish and the english times seemed to be different. A short walk to the crampon station at the edge of the glacier near the bottom. Some groups were on what they called a mini trek. Literally a short walk on the ice, compared to us, it is a beginners lesson on the first day to the snow, while we are off to do triple black diamond runs.
So we fitted the crampons on, but had to carry them for our entry point ont the glacier. So we walked up the morraine on the side of the glacier. We walked and we walked, we did pass a beutiful waterfall, but we were all getting tired, from the walk up. Eventually the guides said its just down there and we all rejoiced. The whole time we had the glacier staring at us on the right, but we couldn’t walk onto it. The guides did up our crampons and we practised three techniques for uphill, downhill and traversing. It was pretty easy and off we went. There is no walking in a straight line on a glacier, we meandered around, staying away from the crevasses and the steep inclines. It was a surreal landscape, the occasional crack or crevasse, emitting a deep blue hue. The guides took us to a waterfall where melted glacier water flow down a hole in the ice and out somewhere underneath the glacier. After 2 hours of walking we were in the middle of the glacier and stopped to eat our BYO picnic lunch. I’d packed a couple of cheese and ham sandwiches and a couple of apples, plus a small chocolate. I filled my water bottle up with fresh glacier water and sat down and enjoyed the view from a unique location.
We packed up and kept moving, looking for an ice cave. when we found one, we all had the obligitory, I’m in an ice cave photo. At this time my legs were burninga dn my feet were aching. It was hard work in the crampons, each steep requiring some force to make sure you gripped the ice. We slowly made our way back down, all exhausted, with an nhour walk back down the hill just to sap our energy. We eventually boarded the boat and had a celebratory whisky on glacier ice. The bus trip back was a quiet trip. Everyone was exhausted and i can honestly say 6y months ago, I’d have not made it up to the glacier to even walk on it.
I’m sitting here exhausted and still have todays phrase of the day to think of. So hows this “Llegamos, vimos y hemos conquistado”. Sounds as good as the latin version for we came, we saw and we conquered.
So not sure whether tomorrow will be exciting or not. I’m planning a sleep in at the very least. I’ll take it from there. Oh yes there is a photo of me on the glacier. That should keep the critics quiet, who like these kinds of photos.