Travel photos: Glacier Grey, Patagonia, Chile
Second in the series of Sunday travel photos....
Near the end of our honeymoon in March, 2004, Kristen and I went to the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, near the southern tip of Chile. It's a spectacular place, well worth a visit if you're an avid hiker. But plan well in advance if you're going in their high season because, as we found out the hard way, it can be impossible to get a room at any of the few hotels actually in the park.
One day I decided I wanted to see a glacier up close and personal, and do some ice climbing. So I drove to a hotel at the southern end of Lago Grey and took a boat ride to the north end where Glacier Grey is not-so-slowly dissolving into the lake, losing several meters a year.
The right (east) half of the glacier is exceptionally rugged and essentially impassable even to expert hikers. The first photo is taken from the boat of the eastern half of the glacier with the mountains behind it during one of the few sunny moments that day.
I was picked up from the large ferry by a small boat owned by Bigfoot adventure tours and we went to the edge of the glacier where we got out, were explained how the harnesses worked, and embarked on a hike through the glacier including an experience ice climbing.
It's a spectacular and surreal scene, constantly changing with ice compressing, melting, coming up from centuries of being buried. The guides say that if you come back after just two weeks you will hardly see any ice formations you remember from the last time.
So, why is the ice blue? The blue ice has been intensely compressed so that there is essentially no air left in the structure. If you could compress an ice cube from your freezer that well, it would be blue too...if only briefly. The air in the ice allows light to refract and get out of the ice whereas the chemical nature of pure water absorbs all but the blue spectrum. If you take a piece of blue ice and hit it with something so that it cracks a bit, most or all of it will turn white almost instantly as air penetrates its structure. Exposure to the elements will also make this happen, although much more slowly, with the change to white increasing as compression decreases. So when you see really blue ice, it's likely very old and has not seen the light of day until very recently. And when you see large glaciers it's likely the bluest ice will be at the bottom.
Seen from the lake, the glacier is split into two parts. Looking from the south (in the lake) at the glacier, the left (west) half seems somewhat more tame and it is where we hiked. This second photo is from my hike within the glacier. I hope you enjoy the photos.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Rossputin on 06/26/05 at 07:07:55 am . Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.|