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Southern Patagonia ice field trek – what’s it like?

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Jan Novak on the South Patagonia ice field, Argentina

 

Jan and Anne booked a month in Patagonia, including the classic W trek in Torres del Paine, and then a fabulous expedition into Los Glaciares National park and on to the south Patagonia ice field. They rounded of their trip with the Montes Martial trek in Ushuaia.

We emailed Jan and Anne to see how they got on their Patagonia adventures:

Jan said: “I would like to thank you for arranging everything for us – it has been all amazing experience – and everywhere we have arrived they already knew us – everything was just flawless. Please pass my thanks also on your local guides and partners – it was all very professional services.”

As Jan and Anne live in Edinburgh we asked if they could pop by the office to show us some photos and fill us in on the trip. Andean Trails’ director, Kathy, was delighted to have a chance to chat to Jan specifically to find out how he got on with his expedition to the South Patagonian Ice-Cap trek.

Andean Trails’ director, Kathy, was delighted to have chance to chat to Jan, just back from his South Patagonian Ice-Cap trek.

Getting closer to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, Argentina

Approaching the ice field

What was the highlight of your tour to Patagonia?

She asked Jan: “What was the highlight of your holiday?”

And Jan replied: “The Ice-Cap definitely, it is a unique experience.”

 

The exchange continued:  Jan Novak “I have never jumped do much I my life.”… more on that below…

 

What did you eat on the ice-cap?

Breakfast was usually porridge, empanadas, small pastries, and tea. We were each given a small bag to carry to supply us for the 8 days.

For lunch we were given a bag of sandwiches, biscuits, sweets, energy gels and cereal bars, which we dipped into each day (we had some  left over),

For dinner the guides cooked for us – mostly  soup at 6 pm then another course from dried food, and it was very tasty, a mix of rice, lentils and meat usually.

 

How much did you carry on the ice-cap?

It was 23kg and it didn’t feel so bad. The bags were all weighed so we carried the same. I was knackered at the end of each day, it was exhausting but it wasn’t as bad as I thought , to carry that much.

It was the tent, crampons and harness that were heavy, the food was OK. I slept 12 hours a night so I got a good rest each day  to recover.

Some days were nice and gentle too, we were always checking the weather and adjusting the days to fit around rain, wind and sun.

 

What was the highlight of the ice-cap trek?

Climbing Gorra Blanca definitely, and the amazing views of Fitzroy and the glaciers – it was fantastic.

It was a 6 hour walk – 3 up and 3 down – you can’t walk quickly on the ice, so going down take just as long as going up.

Panoramic view from the South Patagonia Ice Field looking at peaks and the lake below, Argentina

Panoramic view from ice field

What were the difficulties you encountered?

Getting over the rocks and boulders in the moraines, and jumping, I have never jumped so much I my life.

We had to jump over crevasses (roped up) and also jump over the pols that had formed on the glacier, where pebbles had warmed up and melted holes. The blue ice was beautiful, but the jumping, for 4km wow –  I have never jumped so much in my life.

 

Did you feel prepared?

I was preparing for an arctic expedition but it felt warm, much warmer than I expected. I didn’t need to zip up my four season sleeping bag, it was never below freezing.

Damp was a problem rather than cold.

 

Do you have any advice for others thinking of doing the south Patagonia ice-cap trek?

Take quick dry clothing as damp is a problem.

Some days it drizzled and getting things dry was an issue, so be equipped to dry clothing.

 

Join a Southern Patagonia Ice Field Trek

The  South Patagonia Ice Field trek takes us up the Marconi Glacier and onto the ice field for several days, away from civilisation and people, on to the third largest single expanse of ice on earth, exceeded only by Antarctica and Greenland. This is one of the toughest treks we offer in Patagonia and way off-the-beaten-track.

 

Jan on his return said:

“I would like to thank you for arranging everything for us – it has been all amazing experience – and everywhere we have arrived they already knew us – everything was just flawless. Please pass my thanks also on your local partners – it was all very professional services.”

At the South Patagonia Ice Field, Argentina

South Patagonia ice field

If you are interested please contact the Andean Trails office. Kathy has trekked on the Ice-Cap and is happy to answer any questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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