Friday, June 19, 2015

Perrito Moreno Glaciar

We spent about a week in El Califate in late January.   Every day was a new adventure, but the main reason we'd come was to see the Perito Moreno Glacier.  This is one of the few glaciers that is stable, as it comes directly off the ice sheet.  Over the past 100 years it has kept to a constant cycle of growing and retreating into Lago Argentina, where it periodically comes to rest on a peninsula and then breaks off massively.  But there are regular glacial calvings, small and big, as part of the glacier falls into the lake.  Right now, it's several hundred meters from the peninsula, and there are great views of the leading edges of the glacier from a couple kilometers of boardwalks.
This is a view of the mountains, Lago Argentina, and the valley Perrito Moreno slides out of from the Glaciarium, a museum about glaciers 10 K outside El Calefate.   We spent a morning here, learning about ice compaction, global warming, and the southern Patagonian icesheet.

We did a day trip to Perito Moreno which included a short hike in the park.  This was one of our first views of the SW edge of the glacier.  A little closer, you can see icebergs floating in the lake and the milky color of the glacial silt in the water. 

It's hard to explain how impressive the massive wall of ice was.  Each face was about a kilometer long, in this photo you can see the leading edge that's not far from the peninsula with the boardwalks as well as one of the sides.

On the boardwalks, we saw numerous small calvings.  You can see where ice has fallen and it spreading out in concentric half-circle from the wall of the glacier.  We were on a boat in the morning looking at one face, and spent the afternoon on the boardwalks, when the sun was off and on on the glacier.  We saw a lot more calvings in the afternoon.

This photos is actually from a bathroom break on the way to the glacier.  We got off at a small estancia that had a cafe with bathrooms and resident sheep and guanaco babies. Maeve and Silas both got to give them a bit of milk.  The sheep was particularly aggressive to get to the bottle, and its fur was filled with burrs.

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