Have you ever been blown away by the wind?
Well the Patagonian climate makes the region one of the windiest places on earth. Winds reaching 100km/h aren’t a rare phenomenon and sometimes I struggled to maintain my feet on the ground. The prevailing winds are westerly, and the westward slope has a much heavier precipitation than the eastern in a rainshadow effect. Therefore the overall climate on the Argentinean side is cool and dry but this doesn’t mean you can’t get wet on your hikes. With such strong winds, the climate changes various times a day with impressive speed. It’s not uncommon to experience sunshine, rain and snow in less than half an hour.
In the background you see the Upsala Glacier, a large valley glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The name comes from the old spelling with one p of Uppsala University, Sweden, which sponsored the first glaciological studies in the area. Its higher portion lies in a disputed territory between Chile and Argentina. While the glacier flows from north to south it has three lesser eastflowing tributary glacier: Bertacchi, Cono and Murallón. The Upsala Glacier is unfortunately well known for its rapid retreat, which many see as evidence for global warming. Its retreat has been ongoing since the glacier was first documented in 1810. The glacier showed almost continual recession up until today. As of 2018 Upsala Glacier has retreated to such degree that it no longer constrain its tributary Bertacchi Glacier, which you see in the centre of the picture.
Even though these facts make you sad, the view over these endless masses of ice took my breath, together with the extreme wind, and left me astonished.
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