Argentina – Chile: Glaciers to disaster

Argentina – Chile: Glaciers to disaster

After witnessing the glory of Mt Fitz Roy, the next stop was to be El Calafate to see the awe inspiring Perito Moreno glacier that I have not stopped hearing about… Was it as everyone had said?.. YES!.. The sheer size and vastness of the glacier carving its way through the mountains and down into the lake are just incredible. The only way to capture the whole glacier in one frame is either a 30mm on my XPan (which I would have to sell a kidney to own) or a fisheye on my Fuji’s. The glacier stands a mere 200m from land and it’s hard to put the size of the glacier into perspective because the brain knows that the mountains it’s wedged between are big and you cannot compute it with out having something small next to it… When a 4 story tour boat approached I now got the perspective. The boat looked like a child’s toy.

The sounds and visible show the glacier puts on are something else. The sound of cracking ice than a pause of nothing as it free falls either into the lake or somewhere in the glacier that isn’t visible, the sound and the splash from the ice impacting in the lake are a sight in it self, but the ones you don’t get to see are the loudest, as they crash ice on ice and sounds like an artillery shell has just hit its target and chaos has broken free.

I made two buddies in the hostel that were also riding motorcycles, an Israeli, Eran, who had ridden from Alaska and heading to Ushuaia, and a Canadian, Dave, who began in Canada and also heading for Ushuaia, I totally looked up to these guys riding their bigger bikes and travelling almost 10 times further than I had. We rode out of town together heading for a similar junction before we split up and they continued on as I made the turn heading for Puerto Natales.

I had made the decision to sell my bike in Puerto Natales as the whole “incident” had cost me a small fortune that it would be the only way I could continue and see more places before ending my trip short anyway. The roll of the dice. At 5 pm I arrived at my hostel and asked the wonderful ladies at reception about how difficult it could be to sell here or to head to Punta Arenas to sell. Well it appeared that it would not be difficult at all, one of the ladies had a friend looking to buy motorbike, I was so stoked to finally have something go smoothly. Her friend would come around by 10 pm, so I cleaned the bike up out the front and talked to the lady about the bike, a sneaky man next door was listening in and rang his buddy to come around, at 7 pm a guy showed up and wanted to negotiate, I stuck to my guns and told him at 10 pm another lady would be here to look at it also. He had to check with the boss (wife) and 2 hours later he was shaking my hand and the deal was done. Just like that, Valery my trusty steed who I had gone through so much with would become somebody else’s.

Selling my bike was out of the way so now it was time to explore Torres del Paine, I had bought 8 days worth of food to do my own thing in the park, not the W and not the O but a hybrid of what I wanted to do. In all honesty, I was massively disappointed with the park, the sheer amount of people there and the fact you need to have $120 in pesos on you to just go out in nature and camp didn’t sit well with me. The amenities are top notch don’t get me wrong, but nowhere in my research told me there would be 2000 other people and modern amenities like there is… This isn’t living wild and exploring a National Park, this is a business. All of these aspects have kind of ruined my expectations of the park and what it was about. I remembered back to Futuro Park and I paid a camping fee for every day I would be there and then that was it, I was living on top of a range in solitude and not having modern amenities- how camping should be.

X-E1 XF55-200mm @86mm F16 1/250 ISO200

X-Pro1 XF55-200mm @55mm F16 1/125 ISO200

X-E1 XF35mm @ F16 1/250 ISO200

X-E1 XF35mm @ F16 1/250 ISO200

X-E1 XF35mm @ F16 1/250 ISO200

I spent my first day getting to the campsite and setting up and working out what I would do for the coming days. I got up early to get ahead of the hiker ants that would soon follow. 4km’s into my hike to Glacier Grey I strained a ligament in my knee… I felt like my bad luck was coming back… I decided then and there I would complete this leg of the trek and rest for a day, I continued 21km’s to the glacier and back to my camp with a busted leg. As I arrived back into the campsite I saw people gawking at my tent, I got over to my tent as fast as my leg would allow, disaster! My tent had imploded, a tent pole had snapped and pierced the outer shell. I was so hungry and tired and all I wanted to do was rest. I had to pack up my destroyed tent and head back to Puerto Natales to sort it out. The joy of packing it up in front of about 60 people all watching like I was a freak at a freak show was not a highlight for me.

I had to take the boat back to the bus but I had only a one-way ticket and only 9000 pesos which would be 3000 short of a one-way ticket. I asked the boss half way back to the bus if we could work something out as a return ticket would be 7000 pesos if I had bought it the first time. He had no sympathy for me and picked up the phone to call the police, like as if I was a common thief stealing from him. I tried to make him under stand but he was asking me to do the most ridiculous things to get him his money that would include me missing my bus back to town and not have anywhere to camp as my tent was now useless. Finally, as he was threatening with the cops he snatched the 9000 out of my wallet and let me go… my day had gone from bad to worse and it now didn’t even phase me.

X-E1 XF14mm @ F2.8 30Sec ISO2500

X-Pro1 XF23mm @ F11 200Sec ISO400

X-Pro1 XF23mm @ F16 6.5sec ISO200

X-E1 XF23mm @ F1.6 1/4000 ISO200

X-Pro1 XF55-200mm @ 200mm F4.8 1/30 ISO200

I had limited time in Torres del Paine so to do the trek again would be out of the question. I rented a car and done what I could with my time. Not completely happy with how things turned out, I wasn’t exactly disappointed because of the atmosphere in the park it self-was more of a letdown and I knew I wouldn’t be missing out on anything. Looking back on it now, most photos of the park are from outside and not on the trails. What does that tell you about the park… Is it better from a distance? photographers before me also don’t like 100 people in their photos? I would like to think it’s more photogenic from a distance.