EVER seen a six-to-eight foot death-slab detonate on a shallow rock next to a 15-storey high wall of ice? Yesterday I did. I spent the day marvelling at Glacier Perito Moreno in Argentine Patagonia. It’s one of the earth’s few advancing glaciers (up to two metres a day), which results in gnarly house-sized chunks of ice dropping off its face at regular intervals. While most of the world’s glaciers are receding, Perito Moreno is considered stable – although stable’s not the term that comes to mind considering the havoc caused when ice drops off its 60 metre face. The thing sounds like the fucking apocalypse and is bigger than Buenos Aires.
We watched one giant frosty sheet cascade into the water below, which sent a lump of swell towards a rock shelf that looked to be in maybe waist-deep water. The result was probably the roundest heaviest tube I’ve ever seen. It was hard to tell from our vantage point above the glacier but I’m guessing it was at least six foot (in surfer-speak, so you could’ve stood up comfortably inside the thing) and throwing square, not unlike a reversed-Chopes. I obviously didn’t have my camera handy at this particular moment.
Surfer froth aside, Perito Moreno is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen (a few people this month have told me the exact same, but I’m hard-pressed to word it any better). There’s about two kilometres of boardwalk to suss both faces of the glacier from a bunch of vantage points, each one drawing gasps and ‘oh-my-gods’ from wide-eyed onlookers. You can also get a boat out there (50 pesos/$12AUD), which is cool to see the sheer-height of the ice, but if you’re on a tight budget I’d say skip it. There are about 100 other tourists onboard clambering for photo ops, stepping on your toes and asking you to take their picture when all you want to do is look at the big white thing (one guy was so disgusted with my hurried shitty picture I took of him, he instead went the classic Myspace self-portrait straight afterwards). If you’re thinking because you’re this far south it’ll be off the beaten track and away from the hordes of snap-happy vacationers, think again. But who cares? A bazillion people a day go to see the Grand Canyon but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s almost beautiful beyond comprehension.
The glacier is named after this dude Francisco Moreno who ‘discovered’ it in the late 1870s and he also surveyed a butt-load of the rest of Argentine Patagonia, which was largely uncharted at the time. During his second expedition to the deep south he was apparently taken prisoner by an aboriginal tribe and condemned to death. He escaped the day before his scheduled execution. And this all happened during his mid to late 20s. Can anyone say travel guru? I’ve got a lot of work to do, I turn 25 in five months.
I lied a few days ago and said I wouldn’t post anything for a week or so and then I go and post this. Well I’m serious this time because I’m hiking the W Trek in Torres Del Paine, Chile from tomorrow and won’t have my computer or internet access. I’ve never hiked more than half a day before and this hike takes four to five days. The forecast is for five days of rain and I don’t have a shred of waterproof gear. So you could say I’m heaps prepared…