Jack McCabe

Chasing icebergs in Patagonia

Posted by on July 10th, 2013

Chasing Ice Poster

I just finished watching the award winning 2012 documentary Chasing Ice, a visually stunning film that follows National Geographic photographer James Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey.   His project captures time-lapse images of receding glaciers in Greenland and Alaska, a phenomenon he describes as “a miraculous, magical, horrible, scary thing.” The film reminded me of my own experiences with icebergs in Patagonia.

The alarming rate at which these glaciers are receding and the implications of their accelerated disappearance on the planet is indeed a horrible, scary thing.  At the same time, the images of the glaciers, icebergs and sweeping frozen landscapes are absolutely miraculous, magical, and really quite inspiring.

The film’s gorgeous photographs and videos reminded me of my last trip to Patagonia, and what Balog said about photographing icebergs reminded me specifically of these images I captured on a catamaran ride through Lago Argentino to the Upsala Glacier on my way to Estancia Cristina, in Southern Argentine Patagonia, near El Calafate.

Speaking of photographing icebergs and glaciers, Balog says “There’s this limitless universe of forms out there that is just surreal, otherworldly, sculptural, architectural, insanely, ridiculously, beautiful, and that’s when I thought … OK, the story is in the ice, somehow.”

Cruising through Lake Argentino past these icebergs was, to use Balog’s words, a ridiculously beautiful experience.  It really seemed like Mother Nature was just showing off, toying with us, creating hundreds of timeless ice sculptures that would baffle even the most skilled sculptor and then just scattering them haphazardly about in the lake, like a kid’s toys in a sandbox.
 upsala glacier panoramic


Chasing Ice
scientifically and visually documents the recession of Arctic glaciers, showing that while some variation with the seasons is natural, the overall recession of these glaciers over the course of recent years clearly breaks with historical patterns.

While not exactly scientific, the images below, which I obtained by simply plugging “Upsala Glacier” into Time Magazine and Google’s recent “Explore the World” time-lapse collaboration, which allows you to view satellite images of the earth taken between 1984 and 2012, appears to show the same phenomenon happening here in the Southern hemisphere.

 Upsala Glacier 1984 2012

If you want to do your own Chasing Ice expedition, contact us about our trips to Patagonia and Antarctica.  We’ll help arrange your custom trip in the most sustainable way possible, and you can come see these natural wonders while they’re still here!


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