Getting up close to a glacier has been on my “bucket list” for several years. I am not an intrepid adventurer, and if there were an Aman near a glacier, I would have done it that way… but I still wanted to see one. So on our recent trip to Patagonia in Chile, we arranged for a tour on boat that would take us close to Glacier Grey, which was less than an hour from our hotel, the Tierra Patagonia.
A brief walk (a kilometer or two) to our boat and a 30 minute cruise to the glacier brought us to the most magnificent and awe-inspiring views I have experienced in a while. At over 25 kilometers long, 6 kilometers wide and almost 30 meters thick, this more than 200 square kilometer hunk of ancient ice was a beauty to behold.
The glacier forked off into two leading edges and the surface was craggy and treacherous looking. The ice, a wonderful shade of light to royal blue (it has something to do with how ice refracts lightwaves), is apparently made of slightly bigger crystals and should take longer to melt in one’s drink… yes, they fish out calved pieces of glacier and serve it with your Diet Coke if you would like. The draft of air coming off the top of the glacier seemed particularly frigid and it hit you several hundred meters off the glacier’s edge.
Our boat, which was substantial in size, kept a rather respectful distance from the glacier. I was wondering if they would go closer (I had seen photos from other expeditions around the world where little dinghies seemed to be almost grazing distance from the glaciers) but I figured they knew what they were doing. I wondered about the calving, and could imagine a piece say the size of a car breaking off with a rather big splash into the water…
…but what I didn’t know then was that one of the most massive chunks (almost ten hectares in size!) of the Glacier Grey would break off just weeks after our visit, see here, and it is the biggest portion to calve off since the 1990’s!
Overall, despite choosing not to trek over a glacier and carefully avoid falling into its crevices, the visit to Glacier Grey was definitely one of the highlights of our South American trip last Fall…