Monday, 5 November 2007

Ice Antics on the PM Glacier

Here is a small sample of some stuff that i have been getting up to after work...

Everyone thinks i am crazy, but i go swimming in the lake (well, ive done it twice anyway).

Here is Emanuel a good friend of mine here. That day i found out that it was possible to jump between small floating icebergs (as long as you go fast) to arrive and stand on bigger ones. Hence i thought up a new mission and made the "rema-tempano" (iceberg-rower) - basically a big paddle.

Now although it may look like i am cruising around the lake leaving small icebergs in my wake, be reminded that icebergs have almost 7/8 of their mass below water (a little more with me on it!). For an iceberg to just hold my weight, it must be roughly 600kg. The one above probably weighs in at 1000kg. Trying to move a ton of ice though the water with a little paddle is almost useless. The berg was much more affected by the current and wind, and lets just say that getting back to shore again had its complications!
Ok, here as an activity that is more shared by the majority here at the base - Ice climbing. The above wall is super overhung.
This big block of ice sticking out over a crevasse was great fun. Thats me in the background.
And it didnt snap off.
A bit of fun climbing down a crevasse.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Guiding the Perito Moreno Glacier

My day at work starts off with a 70 minute bus ride. The travelling is definately the worst part of the job, and makes our days long. We then jump in a boat and take a 15min trip across the lake to the refuge (located at the bottom left of the glacier in the photo).

At the refuge we have breakfast and hang out until our clients arrive. Below is one of the boats bringing our next load of about 50 victims for the main excursion - "Minitrekking".

Below is where our minitrekkers end up. The glacier is only 15 mins walk through the beech trees from the refuge, so you have very easy access to some incredible terrain.
These dudes have about 90mins on the ice, which ends with a toast - whisky on the rocks, and alfajores (typical chocalate treat from Argentina).

"Big Ice" - Is the extended trip. We walk up the side of the glacier on the rocky moraine for an hour. We then fit crampons and harnesses before exporing the glacier for 4hrs. We can often find quite impressive caves like the one below on the side of the glacier with easy access for the punters.
This trip enables clients to get a better idea of the immensity of the glacier, as we walk towards the centre.
There are always beutiful blue pools to see on the big ice.

That would be me.And me again. The Perito Moreno Glaciar is about 5km wide in the lower part, making it alot bigger than our glaciers in NZ. Me in an ice cave. These are formed by flowing meltwater that burrows holes deep within the glacier. Its not always safe or easy for clients to go into these- but us guides, well we always guide with full iceclimbing crampons and technical tools!

Monday, 17 September 2007

El Perito Moreno Glaciar

The Perito Moreno Glaciar is just one of the many glaciers which flow from the Patagonian Icefield. This Icefield is 13000sq km which makes it the 3rd largest mass of ice in the world after Antarctica and Greenland. The photos below only show the front portion of the 30km long glacier. This photo shows between 6km up the glacier (right hand side), and very roughly 12km up (LHS).
The photo below gives you a good idea of the arrow-like shape of its front. The other photos are all taken from the southern (left) side.
One thing that makes this glacier very exciting to visit is that it is a calving glacier. This means that ice cliffs of up to 70m are formed at the front, and ice chunks are regularly calving and making crashing into the water below.
The glacier is not floating, it is supported completely on the bottom of the lake. The incredible thing is that the depth reaches up to 110m. The biggest icebergs that are found floating in the lake detach from underneath and pop up like submarines - they are not broken by the impact of falling.
The level of the lake is only 165m above sea level. You have beech trees similar to the ones found in New Zealand. The Glacier is one of the few "stable" glaciers in the world, meaning that for the last 90 years it has been roughly the same size.
The photo below shows that the front of the glacier is currently pushing right up against the Peninsula of Magallanes. You can see the peninsula in the second photo (its at the end of the glacier at the right of the photo). When the glacier is touching, the southern arm of the lake is completely closed and cannot drain to the atlantic. The water level starts to rise over the months until you get whats called the "Rupture". When the pressure gets so great the water forces its way through. This has happened almost 20 times in the last 90years.
The water level is currently about 1.5m above the normal height (2-10-07). The photo below shows evidence of the 22-24m rises that occured prior to the ruptures in 1955 and 1965.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Tour of the Bolivian Salt Flats and Surrounds

Salar de Uyuni is located in the southwest part of Bolivia. It is at an elevation of 3,650m and has an area encompassing 10,000sqkm, making it the biggest and highest salt flat in the world.

3-4 day 4WD tours are the most popular way to experience this awsome place.
Here is our group. We have Guillermo from Mexico, Nicky from Austria, me from NZ, Rachel from Aussi, and the 2 british dudes who i cant remember there names. I think one is Paul.

Thats me in the front
Thats Guillermo, he rules the salt!

Notice the piles of salt in the background. Local campesinos harvest the salt by hand, dry it over a fire, pack it and sell it.

a Salt flat sunset
Hanging out on the bolivian-chilean border
Us in front of a mountain and a lake (the pointy thing is the mountain and the flat thing is a lake)
Traveling in style
Luxury accomadation at 4300m
For more than you would ever want to know about salt- check out this cool link.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

La Isla de Sol, Lago titikaka, Bolivia

my friend cristel at 4000m above sea level, only about 300m above lake level
this is me. i would like to put some more photos of the sun island, but they are really big and take a million years to load now that i am down in the deep south...