In preparation for the hike up to Laguna Torre, I removed the substantial zoom lens from my pack and walked outside to face the majestic ranges of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. These immense granite spires dwarf the town of El Chalten, watching over it like enlightened yet indifferent custodians. I only made it a little distance down the street before doubling back to my room and tentatively re-packing the lens. This process may have repeated several more times before I finally decided to bite the bullet and take it along. I knew that hauling over 20kgs of camping and photographic equipment up a steep mountain trail would almost certainly kill me, but the potential reward would surely outweigh the significant amount of discomfort I would soon be experiencing. I really, really wanted my shot. Even if the weather turned for the worst and I couldn’t make a single photograph I would, at the very least be building up my photographic karma.
When I finally arrived at the my camping spot for the evening, Cerro Torre was blanked by layers of swirling cloud. It seemed very unlikely the mysterious granite towers would reveal themselves any time soon. The wind was howling down through the valley with such immediate ferocity, ensuring that walking in a straight line was a formidable challenge. As I stood battered by the elements on the waters edge, I was struck by the enormity and rugged beauty of the space. I was intrigued by the small icebergs near the shoreline. Many years ago they existed as single snowflakes before settling on the glacier. Overtime as the snow is crushed by the compounding weight, oxygen slowly escapes and glacial ice begins to form under the immense pressures. Before getting too comfortable though, the ice is unceremoniously calved off by the advancing glacier into the lagoon. Here it is left to fend for itself, floating quietly to it’s eventual dissipation along the shoreline. From here the cycle starts again. What a simple and elegant story.
When I poked my head out from within the tent at 5am the following morning I was greeted with a fresh and brilliant blue sky. The wind had almost completely died down and all that could be heard was the gentle rush of a nearby river. I hurriedly compiled a mismatched ensemble of clothing and headed up to the Lagoon. That first glimpse of the towers, rising vertically, purposefully and unimpeded into the sky is simply jaw-dropping. The pre-dawn pinks and blues on the mountain were sublime. The texture of the clouds look as though a child has spilt yoghurt in the sky. In a desperate bid to hide the accident from angry parents they would surely smear the mess around and create similar patterns.