I took a deep breath and exhaled. A white puff of coolness filled the air.
I was so cold.
There I stood, crampons intact, in the midst of an ice masterpiece that is Viedma Glacier in El Chatén, Argentina – a region belonging to Patagonia.
Moments before I was embarking the boat, battling my way through the strong winds that threatened to knock me over, as I scrambled up and down slippery rocks to reach the glacier. The sheer enormity and vastness of Viedma Glacier absolutely blew my mind. In front of me stood 977 km square of ice. How is this even real I thought to myself.
We were taught how to encounter the glacier, overemphasising our stomps to ensure the crampons stuck into the ice. Most importantly, learning different techniques for walking uphill, downhill and sideways. I felt like a penguin waddling along. I assumed walking on ice would be the same as walking on normal ground but boy are they different – I didn’t expect it to be so hard! I had to concentrate to make sure I was using the right technique so I didn’t fall over.
We walked over and under ice formations with shades of different colours from weathered, soiled white on the outside to purer whites, light blues, deep blues and blacks in the inside.
In the distance you could hear randomly thunder crashing noises as large chunks of the glacier broke off into the water. Unfortunately, a physical indication of how quick the glacier is receding.
A highlight of my experience was getting to try ice climbing on a small incline. Like the trekking, it was definitely harder than it looked. We learnt the technique of how to climb the ice wall and then we were harnessed in with our ice axes in both hands. The hardest part was getting the crampons to stay in the ice wall to avoid slipping, in addition to coordinating all the techniques together. Eventually after a few slips, I got the hang of it and made it up to the top! Once on lower ground, we finished off with a whisky on the glacier before waddling back to firm landing.
Ice trekking and climbing was such a cool experience (pun intended) and a highlight of my time in Patagonia. In addition to trekking Viedma Glacier in Patagonia, I also ventured to the infamous Torres del Paine (Chile), Perito Morino Glacier (Argentina), Mount Fitzroy (Argentina) and Cerro Torre (Argentina). All were beyond amazing and breathtaking – 100% must visits. Everyone needs to get to Patagonia at some point in their life. It is one of my favourite places on Earth! I wish I had more money and time to explore it further…I’ll definitely be back one day for more! Hopefully even a trip to Antarctica!