The “Big Ice” trek on the Perito Moreno glacier
March 2 was my birthday! I turned 37 (gulp!) as we were on a bus to the Perito Moreno Glacier to do the “Big Ice” trek. You can either to Minitrekking, a 1.5 hour hike on the ice, or Big Ice, a four-hour trek on the ice, and we paid the $123 each fee (with park entrance) to do Big Ice. It was, after all, my birthday. Once we arrived at the park, we did the tour of the balconies that Martin and I had already done on our first day in Argentina. This time, though, we saw that the small ice bridge that had formed between the glacier and the land had collapsed while we were off in Chile. The way it works is a solid ice bridge forms, then the water builds up until it ruptures the bridge and all the ice collapses back into the lake. These big ruptures happen about every two years around Feb or March, but they had one last year, so another isn’t due until 2008. The smaller bridge that collapsed while we were in Chile doesn’t count as a rupture.
We hiked about 1.5 hours along the side of the glacier, stopping along the way at three points to 1) drop off stuff we didn’t need 2) get fitted for crampons and harnesses and 3) put on our crampons and harnesses. They gave us some quick advise on how to walk up and down hills, then we took off following Guillermo (Willy), one of our three guides. Glaciers are WET! I was expecting it to look like a big undulating ice cube, but it was more like hard packed snow, or ice that had melted, then refrozen into a crust, full of crevasses and rivers. You would get to a crevasse that was only about six inches or one-foot wide but many meters deep—sometimes empty but often filled with water—and the ice would be a bright blue beneath, and just walk over it. At first I thought, “They’d never let you do this in the U.S. this is NOT safe!” There were holes everywhere, and we must have crossed two dozen little rivers. The rivers were really snaky, unlike regular rivers, creating what looked like mini water slides, except that those slides dug further into the ice until you couldn’t see them anymore. I took a bunch of pictures of one such sinkhole. We had lunch by a small lake and then I had to wait for the others to hike over a hill (glaciers are VERY hilly) so I could take off my harness and pee. NO one else had to pee. I guess I drink too much water. I felt like I was at the North Pole all day. It was SO much fun hiking on a glacier! There is a glacier trek you can do at the Lago Grey glacier, too, but we didn’t know about that and didn’t have any leeway with all our hotels, buses and flights already booked. I don’t know which one is better, but I would recommend doing both because that’s what you fly all the way to Patagonia for—the glaciers.
We ate that night at my favorite Patagonian restaurant, Casmiro Biguá (the fancy one) and I, once again, had the sea bass on grilled vegetables. We tried the more expensive Luis Bosca Merlot, but I liked the Saurus better. I think Luis Bosca is better in a Malbec, but we didn’t want Malbec with our fish. We shared a to-die-for chocolate soufflé and slept like bears that night.