Trekking the Glacier: Perito Moreno

Patagonia honeymoonThere are very few glaciers in the entire world that are still expanding (thank you, global warming), but Argentina’s Perito Moreno is not backing down. About an hour drive from the town of El Calafate, Perito is also one of the most accessible and magnificent.  Our day to Los Glacieres National Park began with the standard views from the nearby walk-ways, and ended with anything but the standard experience.


Calving glaciers at Perito MorenoTaking our initial tour we learned that at the mouth of Perito Moreno glacier  advances 2-3 meters every day. By the time the ice and a little sunshine reaches the face of glacier, the calving begins. The front layer of ice avalanches into the lake at frequent intervals throughout the day, resulting in icebergs and massive slushies in all directions, and lots of oooo’s and aaahhh’s.


Perito Moreno land bridgeAfter our literal “walk in the park” viewing session it was time to board our boat to get a closer look at this monster.  We could see the remnants of the natural ice bridge–it  collapses every 4-5 years and it went down just the week before we got there.


Jagged ice peaks of Perito MorenoWith jagged peaks as far as the eye can see and crevasses that could swallow a school bus, the thought of a six-hour hike across this glacier sounded like an insane idea but with the help of outfitter Heilo & Adventura we were going to do it anyway.


Waterfalls of Perito MorenoAfter a brief introduction to the do’s and don’ts of glacier trekking, we were given our crampons and began the 2km hike along side the ice field. Along the way we encountered ridiculous weather patterns, from sunshine to 60km mph winds and pelting sleet.


Big Ice tour guides at Perito MorenoNo, our guide did not have legs laden with fat rolls, that is the wind whipping up a storm like nobody’s business. Everyone walked head down, thinking to themselves, “They have gotta call off a hike in an ice storm, right?”


Big Ice Hike at Perito MorenoHere, a separate group traversing the glacier, with two guides for every 10 people. Though we were concerned there for a while, Hielo & Adventura did an excellent job keeping us all out of trouble.


Blue Ice of Perito MorenoWith a constant pattern of melting and freezing, Perito Moreno is ever changing. This river was cutting through the glacier, dipping under the ice, only to reappear ten meters later above the surface at twice the size.


Crampons and harnesses for Big Ice hikeAfter a couple hours, the wind settled down enough for some smiling photos. You can see the harnesses everyone wore in case the glacier decided to bring us in for a closer look at a crevasse.


Mikes crampons at Big Ice hike Perito MorenoMy boots and crampons straddle the deep blue ice channel. Depending on the weather in coming days the crack could expand with some sunshine or close with snow. (It snows about 300 out of 365 days a year at the back of Perito Moreno, keeping this puppy on the move).


Mike and Anne at Perito MorenoHaving successfully trekked 6km of the 30k that is the Perito Moreno glacier we were both exhausted and exuberant. It is hard to fully grasp the raw power that a glacier possesses without actually stepping foot on it, but hopefully the photos, and slideshow below get you excited to try one for yourself.


Have you been to Perito Moreno? Have you been to any other glacier in the world?

8 comments on “Trekking the Glacier: Perito Moreno

  • May 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Any idea what the temperature was there with the wind chill factor? I’d like to do something like this but it looks very cold. However, I see some gloveless hands, and I imagine the blues make it look colder than it really is.

    • June 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

      I would guess the temp on the glacier was around 45 before windchill, then take off about 20 degrees for wind. Add in some sleet and 30 mile per hour wind in your face and you have….SHEER AWESOMENESS. But in the end you are so enthralled by the ice in your future, and excited you dont even notice. Anne had rented waterproof pants, mine werent, and we were fine. you should totally 100% do this hike. it might change your life 🙂

  • May 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

    These pics are unreal!  I walked on a glacier in Western Canada, but it was not as jagged or breathtaking.  It was definitely a fun experience though!

    • June 2, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Thank so much Alison! Just looking back at these photos right now, my heart just started beating faster. I want to go back already. This time with my own gear and some professionals for a 3-4 day trip deep into the glacier… to start training for glacier walking!

  • November 25, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Perito Moreno is my favorite glacier ever! although I’ve never mastered the will to go and hike on it, I’ve seen it 3 times and always wonder at its beauty. Great shots here, you must have lived quite an adventure then. Cheers to more!


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