Campe de Hielo Norte, Part 3: Horseflies, Icebergs, and Crampons

I’ve got another long quantitative model post coming soon, but in the meantime, I want to post more pictures from Chile. At the end of the last post, we were re-moistened and across the river about halfway up this valley:

I'm getting a lot of use out of this picture.

We spent a day hiking up to the edge of the big lake, emptied our packs, hiked back to where we had camped to fill up our packs with the rest of our stuff, and hiked back to the lake. Now that we were all together and on our way, the massive pile of stuff required hiking from point A to point B, returning to A with empty packs, and then retracing our steps to B with the rest of our stuff. This was made all the more difficult by the irregular and often steep terrain and the exceptionally robust temperate rainforest foliage in and around the valley.

Here’s a view of the big lake, which had a number of fairly massive icebergs floating around in it (click to embiggen):

So that's where the late night chunks of ice came from!

At one point during this day, we stopped for a break, and a horsefly larger than any I had ever seen paid us a visit. I swatted it, and it fell to the rocky ground stunned. I picked up a softball sized rock and dropped it directly on the fly. The fly seemed, at most, slightly peeved by this. I had to drop the rock on the fly maybe five or six more times before it stopped moving. It was an impressively durable insect.

We had to make another river crossing somewhere up near the lakes. It wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as the roped crossing we made downstream, but it was still reasonably treacherous. After camping for another day, we made our way around the north side of the small lake and hiked up toward the glacier. Here’s a close-up (a screen grab from google earth) of the small lake and the glacier:

The Small Lake and the Glacier

I remember that, as we talked about ascending from the lake to the glacier, it didn’t look like it would be much of a climb. One of the instructors pointed out that, because our eyes are displaced horizontally with respect to one another, it’s difficult to judge the steepness of inclines when your head is upright. We all dutifully turned our heads sideways and saw immediately that the incline was much steeper than we had thought. It’s not like we had a choice about where to go, of course, but now we could more appropriately fear the hike ahead. From somewhere up that incline, between the lake and the glacier, I took this picture:

Goodbye, Small Lake.

So, it turns out that glaciers are really impressive things. We camped for a few days on the rocks next to the glacier, spending some time learning to use crampons and scouting out how best to actually ascend the glacier. I’ll leave off with a couple pictures from around this time in the course. Note, please, that the wee wrinkles in the screen grab picture are the 10 to 40 foot tall walls of ice in these pictures:

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2 Responses to Campe de Hielo Norte, Part 3: Horseflies, Icebergs, and Crampons

  1. Pingback: Campo de Hielo, Part 4: Glaciers Are Big » Source-Filter

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