When I decided to go to Patagonia, one of the main things I wanted to do was to get up and close to a glacier. Although I had already seen glacier Grey in Torres del Paine and glacier Moreno in El Calafate, I've never actually had the opportunity to get on the ice. So when I arrived in El Chalten I decided that Glacier Viedma was definitely going to happen.
I took a tour with Patagonia Adventura in El Chalten. They offered two options a "normal" and a "pro" version. The normal version was a half day trip that included a trek on the glacier and the pro version was a full day that included both trekking and glacier climbing.
Initially I was only planning to do a trek, but the glacier climbing sounded epic. I also figured what the heck, how often do I visit Patagonia? I'm already here - I might as well get the full experience!
On the day of the tour we met the crew at the Patagonia Adventura office early in the morning and departed for the docks where our boats would take us to the glacier and begin our tour. Things didn't go as planned as we approached our drop zone, the weather was insane - you could literally hear the wind cutting through the air.
After an hour of trying to get us on land the crew decided to call the trip off and try again the next day.
Luckily the weather was more forgiving on our second try. Beyond the drop zone we had to trek for about 20 minutes before we actually made it onto the ice.
TREKKING ON THE ICE FIELDS
We began our adventure with a safety briefing and getting set up with equipment. I was fitted with a set of cleats for trekking on the snow and also hooked up with a helmet and a harness for the glacier climbing part of the tour.
Setting foot on glacier Viedma felt like visiting another planet for the first time. The glacier fields looked like frozen waves of water cascading into infinity. We were flanked by mountains limiting our views to just rock and ice which definitely added to the other-worldly feeling.
CLIMBING THE GLACIER
Climbing the glaciers was a lot easier than I expected. Once I got the technique down it was a piece of cake. You can really tell when your technique starts to break though, you will start to feel a lot of strain on the arms - I realised this later when we I attempted a more sloped climb.
We did 3 separate climbs in total, each progressively more difficult than the last. The first crevasse was completely flat and relatively small and easy to climb. The next one was slightly harder with a slight slop. Finally we hit a wall that had a significantly larger outward slope and was probably twice as high as the previous 2 climbs. It took me a couple of tries to get to the top, but I made it to the top in the end. I definitely felt a lot more strain on the arms. I think this was mainly because my technique was a bit off. Ideally most of the weight should be supported by your legs.
Besides the initial hiccup getting to the glacier, exploring glacier Videma was an incredible experience. Being able to get close and personal with this stunning landscape really gave me a new appreciation of the natural beauty in this world. If you're visiting El Calafate you really should not miss it.