Yesterday I finally had the chance to watch the critically acclaimed documentary “Chasing Ice” in which environmental photographer James Balog sets up 25 timelapse cameras to record the decrease of arctic glaciers. While the topic itself is anything but new to me, the movie stands out for Balog’s ambition and its visual impact – it definitely made me stop and think again.

I’m lucky enough to have visited some of the most beautiful glaciers our planet has got to offer and the thought of them slowly disappearing made very sad. I immediately felt the urge to work on some images of glaciers. Well, actually I felt the urge to go out and explore a glacier but that option unfortunately was out of question and so I fired up Lightroom and started browsing my image library, looking for that unmistakeable combination of icy whites and blues. Soon I found myself indulging in memories.

It was the 5th day on the W-Trek through Torres del Paine and we were starting to feel exerted. But with another 15km of walking in front of us we had no time to lose. We left our camp at Paine Grande after breakfast and started hiking. The trail was climbing slowly, but steadily until, after 1 1/2 hours we reached the first panoramic viewpoint of Glaciar Grey (our destination for that day). The sun had been shining off and on but most of the time it was overcast and Lago Grey and Glaciar Grey lived up to their names. Nevertheless the panorama of Glaciar Grey and view of the peaks of the Southern Patagonian Icefield was mindblowing. Icebergs that must have been the size of houses were floating in the lake below us, while the wind painted the sky with clouds of all kinds of shapes. I could have stood there forever, just watching, but we still had about two thirds of our way in front of us.

Panorama of Glaciar Grey in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine

The Colours of Grey

It took us another five hours to reach Campamento los Guardas, located in a small forest 200m above the glaciers surface. We had lost some time trying to book a boat that would take us back from Campamento Grey to the other side of the lake from where we would take a bus out of the park. Apparently the boat was full on the next morning, but at least we had made it onto the waiting list. We were a bit frustrated and tired. Low clouds had rolled in and a strong, icy wind had picked up. After dinner, we nevertheless tried to enjoy the view of Glacier Grey, but as soon as we had left the forest that protected us from the wind we were freezing. Within a few minutes we decided to call it a day and returned to our tent.

Just as I was about to re-enter our tent for the night I saw this yellow glow. First I thought it was light shining through our yellow tent, and didn’t really care, but when I turned around I saw that it was coming from outside. Actually the whole forest around was filled with this familiar warm light. I knew that this would be my only chance. At first I cursed but seconds later I kissed my sweetheart, grabbed my camera gear and tripod, put on an extra layer of clothes and went back out to the rocky ledge overlooking Glaciar Grey…

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 USM @ 17mm
ISO 200, f/8, .6 seconds
Gitzo GT1541T

12. February 2011

4 vertical shots stitched, double processed and then cropped to 3×1.

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