Patagonia: Intimidating Landscape for Brave Adventurers
Patagonia is a hard place to put into words. On my second trip, I was deeply moved by my initial experiences here so I had apprehensions about my return.
Had I set my expectations too high? Was I going to get the same feelings I had coursing through my veins on the first trip? Was I going to lose interest due to the "already been there, already seen that" factor?
The flight to Santiago is pretty standard. Long hours, uncomfortable sleep, and heaps of ocean. It's coming into Santiago though, that's when you start to perk up. The descent gives you a sneak peak of mountains and volcanoes off in the distance and you start to get the jitters.
The flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas is where the scale of this place becomes real. Flying along a section of the Andes makes you realise it's size, with 500 peaks over 6000 meters, this place is seriously intimidating.
It's then that the Patagonian ice-field starts to come into view. This scene is indescribable, it seems never-ending. It's the second largest ice field outside the poles. Home to countless kilometres of glaciers, crevasses and ice falls, it's like looking into another time period. A time period of which is disappearing before our eyes.
We decided to keep things simple and hang around Lake Pehoe. I've never experienced wind like this before. Watching it race across the water and nearly knocking us over was something I'll never forget.
Another unforgettable experience was a frightening puma encounter. Jay, Trent and myself were cruising around the Pehoe camp ground when my torch caught two giant green eyes. Instantly I froze in my tracks. Pumas are not know for attacking humans, but that holds no weight to the initial reaction you get when you bump into one.
It's a feeling I will never forget, a humbling experience and probably one of the best of the trip. A feeling that the entire situation was down to him, we had no control over any of it. It came down to the fact that if he wanted to, he could easily take us. The puma continued on its way and we were left to pick our jaws up off the ground.
One thing I love more than seeing a place for me is the reactions of other people. When the crew arrived it was amazing to see everyone on cloud nine. It reminded of the initial feelings I had for this place and it drives home why I love what I do.
We spent the next couple of days exploring the Pehoe area. With mixed conditions we managed to snag a couple more shots to add to my portfolio. I'm still pinching myself over one of the best sunrises I've ever seen.
We then made the long hike up to Torres del Paine and the Three Towers the park is named after. The weather held and unbelievably we got a second bumper sunrise.
Our last journey for Torres deal Paine was over the Glacier Grey on the other side of the park. We spent a night exploring the walks and marvelled at the glacier for set viewing points. The next day, however, was the money ticket, the boat taking us on a round trip in front of the glaciers face. This one completely blew my mind.
The glacier itself is 27km long, 25km of that its on land, the rest is floating on the lake. It's on average 500mm wide. Last year it lost 13m of its height across the entire glacier, and retreated 130m in length. It's frightening to witness the planet change so rapidly.
Then it was onto Argentina. The border crossing alone from Chile to Argentina is hilarious, these two countries don't exactly get along so my interpretation is that both refuse to fund the roads in the 10km "buffer zone" between the two boarder control stations. This results in a poorly maintained dirt road between two highways. Wait till you go there, it's hilarious.
The drive from the border to el Chalten is long and pretty flat, about 2 hours out peaks start to materialise on the horizon. We drove through the most incredible light piercing the clouds as we pulled into town. Although magical, it was the start of a fairly decent storm.
We hiked up to Laguna Torres in the hope the clouds would lift in the next couple of days and we'd get a chance to again shoot Cerro Torres. They did lift.... On the last morning at that spot. It's actually pretty rare to get clear days so we were lucky we got anything at all.
After a quick pit stop in town we start back off on the final journey. With one of the boys feet completely covered in blisters it was a slow walk in. Eventually, we made it to Pinochet, a campsite at the very base of Mt Fitzroy.
By now we were all growing pretty tired from the trip and used the last two days of camping as a bit of a kick back and relax time. I got a tent shot and on the last afternoon we were blessed with yet again another crazy sunset.
Written by Jake Anderson, a THISWORLDEXISTS Ambassador. See more of Jake's adventures and photography on Instagram: @jakeandersonphotography