Argentinian South Patagonia;
Perito Moreno Glacier and an Ice Bar
After Torres del Paines National Park, we headed into Argentina for about 10 days to see their side of Southern Patagonia. Generally the Andes Mountains divide Chile from Argentina. The winds from the Pacific carry moist air which rains and snows on the Chile side, but generally the Argentina side looks like a desert. Along the border, there’s the Southern Icefield. This is the world’s third biggest reserve of water, and it creates hundreds of glaciers that slide west into Chile and east into Argentina. Net result: we’ve learned a lot about glaciers!
Our Introduction to Glaciers
Our first base was the town of El Calafate, and the Perito Moreno glacier is the main attraction. You may recall hearing about this glacier, as about 10 years ago it created a spectacle for the world to see. The tongue of this glacier is close to land, and it builds up a bridge to the land over time. But the bridge creates a dam in the lake, so the water pressure builds up and starts to eat away at
the ice bridge from the bottom up, eventually resulting in a spectacular collapse. Youtube video here This glacier is mesmorizing: it’s big, it’s clean, it’s a beautiful blue color, it moves fast, and there are front row seats consisting of miles of viewing decks on the peninsula it touches. It moves 2 meters per day, so there are calving events fairly frequently and they’re thrilling. Tourists like us hang out and watch/wait for huge hunks of ice to break off, hang for an instant in space, and then drop into the lake, generating big waves as the newborn iceberg sinks for a moment and then bobs up. Sometimes they roll several times as they achieve equilibrium. We watched for almost two hours in the freezing cold and then watched it some more from a boat where we were very close to the glacier front.
Drinking cocktails in -10 degrees Celcius
Next stop was the Glacerium. This is a privately run museum covering all aspects of glaciers. After viewing all the educational displays, we had some fun, when we went down into the basement where there was an “ice bar”. The walls, ceiling, chairs, decorations, bar, and even the drinking glasses are all made of glacial ice. The whole room is maintained at -10 degrees C to keep everything frozen, so we were given silver colored robes and mittens to keep us warm. A bar tender served all-you-can-drink beverages; we chose amarettos and Dan did his best to get his money’s worth. Colored lights flashed, disco music played, and everyone danced around, clinking their ice glasses and exploring the unique environment. The last exhibit in the Glacerium is a narrow long walk of sorrow about global warming and all of its impacts. It didn’t mention the impact on global warming we’d all made by flying here and enjoying the refrigerated ice bar.