The last news about Patagonia that made it into austrian newspapers was when a tourist accidentially set Torres del Paine National Park on fire in December 2011. A few days ago, on May 16th I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read a headline about Patagonia again – this time it was good news: Conservacion Patagonica had donated 37,500 acres of land to Parque Nacional Perito Moreno.

If you take a look at the activities of Conservacion Patagonica and its founder Doug Tompkins, the donation doesn’t really come as a surprise. Tompkins, the co-founder of The North Face clothing, is an eager environmentalist and conservationist putting a lot of effort into saving the last wild places in Patagonia. For more than two decades now they have been aquiring private land in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in order to later donate it to create national parks like Parque Nacional Corcovado, Parque Nacional Pumalín or Parque Nacional Monte León. Hundreds of thousands of acres of private land have since been converted into publicly owned and administered refuges of biodiversity. Former farmland, that had suffered from severe overgrazing for decades was returned to its natural state, recreating much needed habitats for endagered species like the patagonian Huemul deer.Tompkins had first visited Parque Nacional Perito Moreno on a climbing expedtion in 1992. Back then he noted that the most beautiful part of the area, the Rio Lactéo Valley leading to Monte San Lorenzo, had for some reason been excluded from the park. He decided that this part of land should at some time be integrated into Parque Nacional Perito Moreno and luckily, soon after his visit, he was able to aquire the farmland known as Estancia El Rincón. On May 16th 2013 this beautiful piece of land was finally handed over to the Argentinian National Park Administration (APN).

The news about the donation made me daydream about my own visit to the area in 2012 again. Twenty years after Tompkins, I had had the pleasure of walking along the same valley and still experience the pristine nature of it:

Cerro Hermoso at sunset.

Beauty Ahead

The clouds and light that evening were glorious: like the day before a big system of lenticular clouds had built up. The main cloud (you can see a part of it here) was hovering above the mountain range east of the Rio Lactéo Valley and spread at least 15km from north to south. Monte San Lorenzo itself was completely covered in low clouds and didn’t catch any light, but when the sun finally sunk below the horizon the whole valley was illuminated in orange, and later pink, hues. That’s what I had been waiting for. I turned north after shooting downriver for some time to shoot Cerro Hermoso (“Beautiful Hill”), the glaciated peak in the middle, and the waxing crescent moon right above.I took the shot with the white balance set to auto and confirmed the result by checking the whiteness of the moon in Lightroom. The saturation level was very high since the pink/orange light that bounced back from the massive cloud camera-right above me basically flooded the whole scene with colour.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 USM @ 17mm
ISO 100, f/11, 4 seconds
Gitzo GT1541T

29. March 2012

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