Five mouth-watering facts that will have you packing your crampons and joining our 11-day Patagonia Ice Trek Expedition.
The ice field
An obvious one to start with, but it’s worth saying: the Southern Patagonian Ice Field unfailingly astonishes all those fortunate enough to encounter it. The world’s third largest icecap is a desert of iridescent white, the terrain at points smooth and flat, at others whipped by time and winds into peaks that take on shades of green and blue, frozen fields punctuated with sinkholes and lagoons of the purest water. Spending time on the ice has a truly Antarctic feel, the world around you reduced to glaciers and granite, the only noises your breathing, the wind, and the slow, steady creak and crunch of the ice.
Sunset over Fitz Roy
It’s a spectacular sight, the deepening red and orange light cast over the peaks of Fitz Roy, Cerro Pier Giorgio and Gorra Blanca. The mighty mountains are at their most beautiful, but it’s also a memorable moment because it comes at the end of the trip’s toughest day of trekking, a walk that takes in moraine-scrambling, tackling the steep-sloped Marconi Glacier and negotiating crevasses. A day of adventure, a test of legs of spirit, and the mesmerising evening views your ample reward.
The world’s most spectacular campsite? Snug in your tent at the base of Cerro Torre’s western face, ice field stretching out in front while grand peaks form a natural amphitheatre, you’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Cerro Torre is pretty much as unclimbable as mountains get: a mile-high granite spike shaped like a shark’s tooth, it is a staggeringly beautiful creation to behold, and even more memorable to get so close to. Which leads us to…
A mug of hot tea while picking out constellations in the skies above, then a warm night under canvas as the wind picks up, a snow-wall outside the tent your barrier; waking up to see surrounding peaks glinting in the morning sun, taking in the vast white of the ice before the day’s trek… there’s no better way to get closer to the environment, to make simple pleasures profound, than camping. And on the ice, that feeling is multiplied, the camaraderie and creature comforts the perfect counterpoints to the harsh, beautiful wilds around you.
The snowbound drama of the trek can obscure the fact that the trip takes in beautiful scenery away from the ice as well. Here’s an excerpt from our Day Seven trip notes: we descend into the green valley and cross the Tunnel River by Tyrolean rope to our campsite in the Lenga forest. How good does that sound! In case you don’t know, lenga trees are a type of beech, moss-covered and beautiful, the dense, ancient forests of Patagonia as peaceful to explore as the ice-fields nearby.