Day 132 - Icebergs floating past our bedroom window, Lago Grey - Paine Grande

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November 11th 2006
Published: November 16th 2006
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During the night we could hear noises a bit like rumbling thunder but which came from the glacier breaking off, or calving, into the lake. When we opened the tent door there were some huge icebergs and loads of glacial ice slowly floating past.

This morning we'd arranged a trip onto the glacier for some ice hiking and ice climbing. This began with a boat trip the couple of miles across the glacier's width (the nearside is very jagged and not suitable for novices like us). We had a pisco sour made with ice fished out of the lake - nice ice, horrible drink. Then the fun started as we put our crampons and harnesses on and took firm hold of our lethal-looking ice axes. There were 6 of us and 3 guides, and keen attention paid to safety which was good with plenty of deep crevices in the ice. The company was called 'Big Foot' and they recently did some work with the Discovery Channel filming underwater in these crevices. Hopefully we'll get to see that when we get home.

When we got going it was incredible. There is a surprising amount to see on a glacier and we had a bright, sunny day which made the blue colours really stand out. We just trudged around the glacier for a few hours, sometimes with ropes to make things easier, and then finished off with the main event - ice climbing. The ice wall they found was only about 10m high and obviously we were supported by a rope, but it was still quite an exhilarating experience. Once at the top we'd put our hands behind our backs, lean back and walk down the ice wall. Excellent fun and highly recommended.

After our boat ride back, where we got soaked, and lunch of some surprisingly nice Pot Noodle-like things, we began our walk back to where we'd come from the previous day which was at the same altitude but with a big hill in between. We were a little quicker this time, possibly because we were 1 pasta and 2 Pot Noodles lighter. More likely it had something to do with the steep climb and shallow descent (rather than the shallow climb and steep descent the other way). Needless to say, we explored this interesting issue further with a formula to determine the position of the summit to make both legs equal, and a spreadsheet illustration.

Bored of pasta, we paid £8.50 each for the refugio's set evening meal. Tonnes of food, all delicious, and people still complain it's too expensive. After a tiring day walking, and in the middle of nowhere, surely it's a great deal?

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