Peaks and Glaciers
Along the Andes by bike
BEAGLE CHANNEL – Tierra del Fuego,
Tierra del Fuego - land of fire, so named by Ferdinand Magellan after seeing fires on the shores as he navigated to the pacific. The fires belonged to the native people who inhabited the region lit to keep themselves warm as surprisingly for such a fiercely cold place, they were naked tribes and didn't wear any clothes.
TORRES DEL PAINE – Chile
Trekking through autumnal beech forests up to the Britannica Lookout in the Valle del Francés. Chile's premier national park is immense, with plenty of hanging glaciers and fractured blue ice, emerald lakes and vertical granite spires. Being one of the most photographed and iconic of destinations, it is one of those places that feels familar even before arriving. The Paine massif probably takes its name from the Tehuelche word for 'blue', paine and is actually pronounced as pay-knee.
MONTE FITZ ROY – El Chaltén, Argentina
The soaring granite towers of the 'Peak of fire’ photographed at dawn, is a mountain located in the Southern Patagonian Ice field. It is one of the most technically challenging mountains to climb on earth with it's polished granite sides too steep for snow to settle. Despite this it was first climbed by a French expedition in 1952.
EXPLORADORES GLACIER – Patagonia, Chile
The Exploradores Glacier is located in the Northern Patagonian Ice Field in Laguna San Rafael National Park. The frozen mass stretches for 20km, albeit, not the longest, it is, one of the deepest. Yet slowly but surely, it is disappearing, shrinking at a rate of 10cm a day during the summer months and 1cm during the winter. One recent scientific survey measured a loss of 9 metres in depth during the five months from September to January of last year.
BARILOCHE – Northern Patagonia, Argentina
San Carlos de Bariloche is in the Nahuel Huapi National Park and sits beside a stunning lake of the same name. With magnificent views of many peaks over 2000m and the Cerro Catedral, it’s an upmarket purpose-built ski town, with european wooden chalet-style housing. As Argentina’s chocolate capital - there are numerous chocolate shops on every street and has a distinct alpine feel to it.
PUYUHUAPI – Northern Patagonia, Chile
Early morning mist shrouds the Ventisquero fjord in Puyuhuapi along the remote Carretera Austral. Puyuhuapi was founded by four Germans in the 1930’s. This influence is noticeable in the steep pitched-roofed chalet style houses, it has a strange and eerie atmostphere.
SOMEWHERE IN – Bolivia
Train tracks diminishing under the fierce Andean sky..
SALAR DE UYUNI – Bolivia
A bitterly cold sunrise over the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt desert in the world, 12,000 km2. It is a prehistoric lake that dried up 40,000 years ago leaving behind bright white salt that gives it this lunar-like landscape.
THE ALTIPLANO – Northern Chile
Parque Nacional Lauca: The hardest climb in the park and one of the highest peaks in Chile ‘Volcan Parinacota’ (6330m) with it’s perfect covering of snow sitting at the foot of a stunning blue lake, ‘Lago Chungara’. At 4515m, it was pretty damn cold with only a slight pressure in my head and ears, surprisingly I felt nothing more having quickly and rather stupidly ascended from sea-level only four hours before in Arica.
HUMBERSTONE, IQUIQUE – Northern Chile
Extraction of nitrate ore was a hugely lucrative business less than one hundred years ago, with busy processing plants called oficinas spread all over the barren desert pampa. The vast nitrate deposits were exported worldwide with big demand for it in Europe and America. Factories were mostly managed by the British, who ensured they dined well off the profits, leaving the Chilean workers to labour for long hours in often very dangerous conditions. Around the time of WW1 orders from Germany ceased as they had developed their own cheap synthetic alternative. This very quickly led to the decline in Chile’s booming industry and by 1960 all except one oficinashad been abandoned. Humberstone has been left just as it was.