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Quelat National Park—The Hanging Glacier

14 Mar

We left Santiago Airport on Sky Airlines; our destination was to be the Hotel Loberias Del Sur, Spanish for Sea Wolf, way down south of Chile in the Patagonian region. The flight was of two and quarter hours to the small Airport of Balmaceda, with one stop on the way at Puerto Montt, another Southern Chilean Airport, here we waited on the Plane for half an hour to offload passengers and take on more heading south. Now I have to mention this Sky Airplane, the seats were extremely tight, you virtually had to hold your arms into your sides, I gave up on trying getting the seat to recline, and the Plane was used purely for Domestic travel. Ana was smiling and assured me that Sky Airlines was one of the safest Airlines in Chile, with no record of fault. I relaxed with that information,but what disturbed me mainly about the Plane was the horrendous noise from the engines when firing up and closing down, it actually sounded like metal rubbing against metal, particularly when closing down, grinding sounds would continue for a minute before silence, my imagination gave way to a lack of Oil and Grease on the engines bearings, I had visions of being on a Fred Flintstone Flight. We touched at Balmaceda late in the afternoon where we were met by a bus to take us to our Hotel, Loberias Del Sur at Puerto Aysen, a small half hour stop on the way, was had at a the City of Coyhaique. We finally arrived and booked in at the Sea Wolf Hotel, an excellent facility this far south in Chile, Food, Accommodation and service was superb. I slept soundly, tomorrow was to a breathtaking adventure within an adventure, I was to hike to the summit of the Majestic Hanging Glacier.

I awoke next morning for an early breakfast, before boarding the bus for the 128 kilometres journey to Queulat National Park, Ana was going to spend the day visiting the Town of Puerto Aysen, I was to climb the Hanging Glacier. The initial part of the trip was on sealed roads and extremely Panoramic, with one small wee stop, we left the sealed road and from then on, it was a dirt road. A highway called the Austral Highway was being constructed at the time; it was to connect Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins further south of Chile. Though the trip involves gravel, winding curves and unpredictable weather, it’s no exaggeration to say that each kilometre offers picture perfect vistas. Once we began driving through the high mountains of the Patagonian Andes, we realized it was not without hazards, often we would have to stop and backup for other vehicles, or vice versa, passing was extremely delicate, full credit to the Patagonian drivers in that they could pass each other with inches to spare, this on gravel roads with high rock mountains on one side, and sheer drops on the other side falling to the valleys below. There were numerous halts as we gave way to construction crews, at one stage we were halted for half an hour as a rock slide was encountered and had to be cleared. We finally arrived at the base of the Hanging Glacier, after getting off the bus I saw far off in the distance, high up in the Mountains, the Glacier I was to climb, it appeared insurmountable, even the vegetation appeared impenetrable. We were advised that the rest of the way was now up to us, there were two paths, one an easy path which would take an hour, the other a strenuous path with beautiful scenery, would take an hour and a half. Relying on my Army training and stamina, I opted for the longer path. I had been doing Kinetic exercises and Physio for twelve months leading up to this expedition and felt confident. I do have a week left knee, and degeneration of the lower spine with Osteoporosis, but my old Army motto of Perseverance was foremost in my mind. I set off to conquer this wonder of Nature. I commenced my adventure. The introduction as to what lay ahead was a wooden walkway, that covered the raging waters that came from the Glacier, from then on it was to follow a bush track through the Sub Tropical Rainforest, this involved much climbing as well as a lot of descending, as the path wended its way to the summit, in places it was overgrown and the path wet, it felt like a Medieval World, and in some places took on the appearance of a Fairy land world, to imagine I was walking through a Rainforest that had emerged from the Ice age era was unbelievable, the sounds of unknown Birds amongst the steep ravines was beautiful. The Foliage so rich and green that closed in like a canopy added to the aura of stepping back in time. About thirty metres into the climb, I realized I was going to have trouble, my left knee wasn’t supporting my back, I changed tack and started climbing leading my right leg, using my right leg to support my back, and my left leg to balance, it worked. I needed many breaks till I recognized the need for an old Army training method, I had to synchronize my climbing with my breathing, I got my second wind and my system worked, they were both in rhythm. Well into the last leg of my hike, I knew I was getting to the summit, I could hear a mighty roar and also the sounds of the raging waters below in the Gorge. I climbed the last bend to the top, and came out onto a platform of rock that faced the Glacier, I was at eye level and it appeared before my eyes like a huge Panoramic picture, I was amazed, this wonder of Nature was alive, it was breathing, its continuous groaning was the sounds of Ice breaking and realigning, both sides of the Glacier had waterfalls, water from melting Ice cascading into the ravine below. I stood in awe for quite some time, it appeared like a painting, I felt that I could put my hand out and touch it, and it was a living, breathing creation of Nature. To digress a little and relate how this Glacier was formed. A Glacier has its beginnings between two mountain ridges, cold air rises up the sides of the ridges and forms snow, the snow falls down the Glacier, commonly known as an Arete, as it falls it solidifies into ice, pressure from more falling snow behind the Ice forces it over the lip of the Arete, virtually a continuous cycle. I watched this beautiful wonder for quite some time, it was absolutely an amazing sight, I turned my head for a brief moment to change camera lens and heard an massive explosion, I looked around in time to witness a massive slab of Ice fall over the lip of the Arete, to tumble onto the rocks below, and shatter before it found its way into the freezing waters below. The size of the Ice would have easily been the size of an average house. Mother Nature did not finish her show there; the Glacier became violent as she adjusted her position to accommodate the missing Ice, her groans magnified as she self adjusted, I stood in wonderment and awe. The time had come for me to retrace my steps down the Mountain; reluctantly I had one last look at this Majestic Masterpiece of Nature. Coming down the high Mountain, I once again took pains to protect my back from jarring, stepping down on my right foot and using my left for stability; a tendency to come down faster, was a recipe for an accident. I made it back to the base camp and enjoyed a beautiful late afternoon luncheon. We boarded the bus and made our way back down the Mountains, darkness was starting to close in, I commend the driver on his ability to manage the bus on the winding gravelly road in the dark, as I recall the road coming up in daylight. Back at the Hotel well after midnight, it was a pleasure to find hot meals already prepared in the dining room, I ate with gusto on the Patagonian Lamb washed down with a few glasses of the Traditional Chilean drink, Pisco Sour, maybe a few more than  a couple. I slept soundly that night in preparation for the next day’s adventure to the Marble Caves, or as it is known in Chile, The Marble Cathedrals.

Cheers

Aussie Emu

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32 Comments

Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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32 responses to “Quelat National Park—The Hanging Glacier

  1. jacksjottings

    April 18, 2016 at 3:33 am

    Today I looked at all your trip posts and liked them all.
    Your words ring like bells ‘majestic master pieces of nature’, you are doing it in style mate.
    The photography is worth a thousand words to me and you have found some spectacular subjects.
    Thank you for taking me along on this mighty trip. _/\_

     
    • The Emu

      April 18, 2016 at 10:57 am

      Greetings Jack, great to know you appreciated my wanderings around Southern Chile.
      Was a great experience but the old bones are starting to object to too much excitement.
      Will try one more adventure next year to the Atacama desert.
      Thanks for the visit and comments mate.

       
  2. natswans

    April 3, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Wow that was pretty exciting stuff Ian, well done . The photo’s are truly amazing , such a beautiful place quite magical.
    Bet you welcomed your cold drink and lunch Ian.

    Onwards and upwards as they say.
    Regards Sheila 🙂

     
    • The Emu

      April 4, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Greetings Sheila, scaling the Hanging Glacier was quite an achievement, I think my days of such adventures are slowing down, the body is starting to complain.
      Cheers.

       
  3. giselzitrone

    March 17, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Danke einen schönen Donnerstag wünsche ich dir liebe Grüße Gislinde

     
  4. Mél@nie

    March 17, 2016 at 8:03 am

    SSS = splendid, stunning, super!!! your post and pix have reminded me of some others seen at “old” friends who spent 4 years in Chile… such a wonderful country, but sooo far-away from “old Europe” – the land of your ancestors… 🙂

     
    • The Emu

      March 17, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Thank you for the visit and comment Melanie, Chile is a captivating Country which I will return to next year.
      I would love to see the land of my ancestors but in this day and age, I’m afraid Europe has lost all appeal to me.
      I did want to visit all the European countries with their History still in place, unfortunately Europe has changed and the remembrance of its former Glory has faded from my imagination.
      Europe no longer is a place for Tourists I feel.

       
  5. Sue Dreamwalker

    March 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Glad your Army style training got you through Ian and your knee stood up to the challenge.. Your description of your walk and wonderment were awesome Ian.. Loved the imagery within your writing and couldn’t wait to scroll down to view the images for real.. Breathtaking views .. Thank you so much for sharing these delights 🙂
    Sue

     
    • The Emu

      March 17, 2016 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Sue, really pleased you are enjoying my Chilean adventure, two more posts to go to finish it off.
      I admit that for twelve months before going to Chile, I undertook weekly Kinetic exercises and Physio in preparation.
      A wise move even though I am suffering a few after effects.
      Cheers.

       
  6. giselzitrone

    March 16, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Danke lieber Freund Grüße und Küsse Gislinde

     
  7. dancingpalmtrees

    March 15, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Great photos and as a fellow Army Veteran I salute you on your successful climb.

     
    • The Emu

      March 16, 2016 at 4:11 am

      Thanks for that lovely supportive comment, Army training got me to the top, plus my old Vietnam Army Unit, AATTV, motto of Persevere, which I have tattooed on my arm, there was no thought of giving in or surrendering. I commend you on the service you gave your country.
      Pity your President wasn’t a little more considerate of his Veterans.

       
  8. prenin

    March 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Like everyone else I am in awe of your photographs! 🙂

    I could never walk that far, unfortunately, but you have provided me with a window into a beautiful part of the world and your writing lends even more to the result!!! 🙂

    Thanks and God Bless!

    Prenin.

     
    • The Emu

      March 16, 2016 at 4:13 am

      Glad you enjoyed my adventure Prenin, as much as the body was aching, this old War Horse wasn’t going to give in or surrender.
      Hope you are getting some relief and look like making a great recovery mate, like I said before, its dragged on for too long a time now.
      Cheers.

       
  9. giselzitrone

    March 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Wunderschöne Fotos liebe Grüße von mir und einen schönen Tag eine Umarmung Gislinde

     
    • The Emu

      March 16, 2016 at 4:27 am

      Thank you Gislinde, I appreciate your lovely visit and pleased you enjoyed my pictures.
      It was quite an adventure which my pictures give me memory’s to cherish.
      Kind regards and Best wishes.

       
  10. derrickjknight

    March 15, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Beautifully written with great pictures; mind you, many breaks seems a bit harsh on your legs 🙂

     
    • The Emu

      March 16, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Thanks Derrick, glad you enjoyed that post and pictures, the breaks weren’t for the legs so much, it was to try and get my breathing into a rhythm with the rest off the body, there was no way I was going to surrender, I meant to reach the top of that magnificent Glacier.
      Thanks for the visit and comment.
      Cheers.

       
  11. davidprosser

    March 15, 2016 at 6:57 am

    Magnificent pictures Ian. Patagonia is the only other place in the world where Welsh is spoken. Maybe you even had Welsh lamb.
    Hugs

     
    • The Emu

      March 15, 2016 at 7:21 am

      Thanks David, I never knew that so had to do some research, the Patagonian region was formerly belonging to Chile, somewhere in history it became shared by Chile and Argentine, appears the original Welsh settlers had a commune in the Argentine side, either way mate, the Patagonian Lamb would be one of the best I have tasted.
      Cheers.

       
  12. auntyuta

    March 15, 2016 at 3:08 am

    I bet Ana was glad you came back in one piece. You say, your left knee wasn’t supporting your back, and then you started using your right leg to support your back, and your left leg to balance. This must have been a rather smart move. It is great that this worked for you. You also say, that you had to synchronize your climbing with your breathing. This makes a lot of sense to me, that the right kind of breathing is very important. Great effort, Ian, and wonderful pictures to remember it all. Thanks very much for telling us all about this great adventure. 🙂

     
    • The Emu

      March 15, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Thank you for your visit and lovely comment Uta, I hope you and Peter are doing well, another Month and Summer will be over, this year has been very hot, and hotter still when we returned from Chile. I definitely had to adjust my Hiking strategy and Breathing for that Glacier, otherwise I would never had made it and had to turn back, the pictures are good but it’s time I invested in a Video Camera and a Head Camera I think.
      Kind regards and best wishes to you both.

       
      • auntyuta

        March 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

        Thank you, thank you very much. 🙂

         
        • The Emu

          March 15, 2016 at 9:29 am

          My Pleasure Uta.

           
  13. reocochran

    March 14, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Amazing photographs and wondrous adventures displayed. I have been meaning to check out your posts, Ian. I am very appreciative how you come to view my posts and “like” them. This means so much to me! Smiles and hugs, Robin
    I cannot wait to hear and see Chile’s adventures, glad you have been sleeping soundly, too.

     
    • The Emu

      March 15, 2016 at 6:59 am

      Thank you Robin, pleased you enjoyed my Photographs, I enjoy visiting your site and following your contributions in Word Press.
      I particularly like the way you bring your poetry to life through your words, you are an excellent Poet.
      Kind regards and best wishes,

       
      • reocochran

        March 18, 2016 at 11:00 pm

        This was more than kind, dear friend who is often a romantic poet. 😉 Hope you and Ana are well, strong and happy! ❤

         
        • The Emu

          March 19, 2016 at 7:39 am

          Hi Robin, lovely to read your comment, been a while since I have written in my Romance site, was actually thinking this week, that it’s time I started posting there again.
          Kind regards and Best wishes for a Beautiful weekend.

           
  14. GP Cox

    March 14, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Whoa, what pictures, Ian!! No wonder you had a great time!!

     
    • The Emu

      March 15, 2016 at 6:56 am

      Thanks gp, definitely investing in a Video Cam and a Head Cam for my next adventures, pictures are good, but don’t really capture the completeness of these spectacular living Wonders.
      Cheers.

       

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