When I came to Patagonia, I expected to wind down after my travels through Antarctica, after what has been a very hectic year of travel. But Patagonia has forced me to sit up and notice her and continued to challenge me physically, dishing up new challenges and stunning vistas that have left me awestruck at the beauty of this planet we live in. I am on a high. I have just spent the morning with my fellow Tucan Travellers ice climbing Viedma Glacier, Argentina’s largest glacier.
There are few places in the world, where beginners can ice climb, especially with such a stunning back drop! I had never done this before but the chance to do something so completely outside my comfort zone could not be turned down! It was an amazing feeling to get to the top of the wall, and hit my pickaxe on the ridge! I feel an amazing sense of achievement at completing this basic climb. It is my first ice wall climb, (as it is for the rest of the group) and the buzz I get from reaching the top stays with me for awhile.
After lunch we make our way back to the glacier for a walk on the ice. We conquered a number of different ice walls this morning but now it is time for something different. While I have done this once before in New Zealand for many in our group this is a first as well. The scenery is spectacular and I am looking forward to taking more photos of the glacier close up. We still have all of our safety gear on from this mornings ice climb. We walk on narrow ridges and there are crevices and canyons on either side of us. Our health and safety is our responsibility but the guides are amazing and keep a close watch as we negotiate the glacier.There are 3 guides to the 11 travellers in the group, which is a really good ratio. They are extremely professional and attentive and I am feeling on top of the world! The guides chisel the ice on the really steep bits, making it easier for us to get a grip.
Unfortunately, the weather has turned and the infamous Patagonia winds are blowing a gale. At times, it feels like we could get swept off the mountain. We crouch low and wait it out, till it is safe to walk up right again. We look out over fabulous view points before the guides lead us to a special place and promise us a surprise. Plastic glasses are whipped out and they chisel away at the glacier, filling each glass with ice. Then, out comes a bottle of baileys, the alcohol is passed around and we drink a toast to an amazing day! I can hardly believe this. I am standing on Viedma Glacier, drinking Baileys with 400 year old glacial ice! This gives a whole new meaning to Baileys on the rocks! It is time to head back to camp and the catamaran that will take us back.
What an amazing day! Perhaps one of the top ten highlights of my life!
Check out some of our exciting Patagonia tours here