Exploring an endangered resource in Argentine Patagonia.
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Perito Moreno Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier, viewed from nearby Bahia de las Sombras. Perito Moreno forms part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the world's third-largest reserve of fresh water. It is one of only three stable glaciers in Patagonia.

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Final approach

The final approach to Perito Moreno involves a boat trip over the Brazo Rico branch of Lago Argentino, Argentina's largest freshwater lake. The icebergs, broken off from Perito Moreno's constantly collapsing edge, will last just a few weeks before melting away.

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Perito Moreno from the beach

Taking a minute to admire Perito Moreno from the beach. At a maximum depth of over 1,600 feet, the waters surrounding the glacier are deeper than any of the Great Lakes.

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After landing

It's a quick hike along the shore to get to the glacier's base. There, hikers don crampons before beginning the climb to the top.

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The group climbs in single file

Following the path stamped out by previous groups' bootprints to avoid crevasses.

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First-timers

Guides instruct first-time crampon users to go "up like a duck, down like a monkey" - toes turned out on ascent, feet straight and knees bent on descent.

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Top

The top of the glacier is a maze of tooth-like spurs and cracks, formed by erosion and the glacier's constant movement. Without sunglasses, the sun's reflection off of the compacted ice is almost blinding.

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The surface of Perito Moreno

Dotted with ponds and flooded crevasses, eroded by running water from the glacier's spring melt.

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Deception

Though they may appear shallow, the crevasses can be hundreds of feet in depth. The wells often lead to cave-like systems of horizontal chambers and passages, formed where the melt water reached a layer of ice too hard to penetrate.

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In case of emergency

Guides keep harnesses, ropes, and other rescue equipment cached in barrels at various points around the trail.

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Before leaving the glacier

Hikers celebrate a successful trek with a whiskey toast. Appropriately, it's served on ice.

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