|The Moreno Glacier is supposedly Argentina’s premier attraction, along with Iguacu. It is certainly impressive. Something we have found, however, is because we are bussing everywhere, the downside is that we spend days on a bus travelling through mountains and endless highways, at the end of which you come to star tourist attractions like the aforementioned Moreno, and it can feel a bit like a walk through a peaceful garden where you reach the rose bush in the middle and someone starts playing loud music, so to speak. But the things that you see, just random sights in the middle of nowhere of countryside and mountain are awesome. On route we saw some stunning scenery, had a walk around and saw some golden eagles and condors, although they flew off before I could snap them. 3 metre wingspans equals awesome aerial spectacle and they are on my photo hit list for the Andes. When we reached Moreno it was iceberg overload, Captain.
The glacier itself is huge, mile after mile. Because of a low gap in the Andes, it allows moist Pacific storms to drop their loads east of the mountains where they accumulate as snow. Over the millennium, under huge weight, this snow has recrystalised into ice and flowed downwards, to the east. The face of it, which is the main bit that you go to see, towers up about 150 feet over the water. We first hiked along the shore of the lake from a distance, taking in the scale of it and then moving slowly closer, like cunning predators. Then we took a boat trip which sails right up close to the face where you can see it more closely. The ice, like all forms of water, is constantly changing, with cracks, ravines, and caves all along. It’s one of the only advancing glaciers in the world, moving about two metres a year. This means that there are constant loud cracks and creaks from all over the place, echoing out like a huge amplifier. It also means that huge chunks of ice regularly break off the face, some the size of cars, crashing into the water and causing huge waves to roll out over the lake. We saw several such chunks and it gets the audience attention like nothing else, the whoops of applause almost drowning out the loud cracking sounds. Unfortunately, I failed to get any incidents on camera. You never know when it’s going to happen and when it does it’s over in seconds so it’s really just blind luck or one adopts the strategy of BBC nature documentaries and finds a bush, keeps the camera rolling, and don’t move for several months until you have a few seconds worth of tasty footage. We were only there for a day so did not pursue this.
After the boat trip we walked around viewing platforms on the shore, giving you different angles of the glacier, including some high ones that let you look out over it, something you can’t do from the boat, and really appreciate the size. So, scale wise it’s an awesome spectacle. The best thing about ice, however, in my opinion, is the changing colour. It was a windy day and when the clouds and sun moved it would be like the beam from a masterful lighthouse scrolling over the wide face and illuminating it in electric blue. Also, wherever there were cracks and holes that allowed you to peer deeper into the ice, the colours intensified. With snow-capped mountains behind, it felt like we were in the arctic in a small vessel that had just lost its sail and rigging into the grey frigid seas, trying to work out with mounting concern how to avoid the biggest iceberg we’d ever seen.
After Moreno, we felt we needed to get closer, if it were possible actually becoming part of the ice. Having heard about ice hikes about one hundred miles north of here on another glacier, we packed our snow shoes and set off into the white unknown...