Patagonia 2014 / by William Bryan

For winter break my family planned a vacation to Patagonia. A must visit for adventurers and photographers around the world. Seeing as I like to think of myself as both an adventurer and a photographer, I couldn’t have been more excited about my family’s vacation destination. We spent three days in Santiago, and eight days in Chilean Patagonia hiking portions of the “W.” After returning home my friends have asked me countless times what the best part was, or “How was your trip?” There is no way to describe Patagonia. You simply have to go yourself. It’s impossible to convey the vastness of the landscape through words or pictures, but I’ll try my best below.

Unfortunately, the best weather we had on the trip was while driving into the national park on our first day, and driving out on our last day. This made photographing a little difficult, especially when hail and sleet was pelting me in the back at 40 miles an hour. But I did my best to capture the beauty that Patagonia holds (GoPro’s can help with the extreme weather conditions).

Near a Penguin sanctuary on our first day in Patagonia.

A lone Gaucho presides over his flock of sheep. The lambs are extremely tasty if cooked just right…

Torres del Paine.

After arriving in Chile I realized that I would be in Patagonia during the southern hemisphere’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Being nearly as far south as you can go without traveling to Antarctica meant that the longest day of the year was VERY long. I decided that I wanted to try and capture the sunrise and sunset of the longest day of the year. I woke up at 4 a.m. to take this picture, and the picture below was captured around 10:30 p.m.

Hiking on Grey Glacier, which extends 25 kilometers further north (left, in the picture). Hiking around and exploring caves, crevasses and a massive field of ice is a great way to make you feel small, especially when vast mountain ranges are the backdrop.

On one of the last nights that I spent in Patagonia my sister, our guide and I were drinking wine and playing card and dice games until the sun set (which is a reasonably late time, especially if you have to wake up early the next morning to hike eight miles). A while after it got dark we decided to walk to the lake pictured above, and drink some whiskey out of a Nalgene along the way. But warm whiskey isn’t very good – especially when drinking it from a Nalgene. Another guide that we had been passing the time with, Jorge, had an idea about how we could cool down our whiskey. Icebergs. Because glaciers are constantly growing and shrinking with the seasons (and climate change), quite a few chunks break off and float across the lake. The smaller ones that have less mass below the water can get quite close to shore, making it possible to “harvest” them. Jorge donned his waders and ice axe and went to war with the nearest iceberg. He struggled about 30 feet out into the lake and started hacking at the ice until a chunk the size of a car tire fell off. He then dragged it ashore and broke it into smaller chunks that could fit in the Nalgene. Even bad whiskey in a plastic bottle can be made delicious if you add some glacial ice cubes to it.

During the summer constant winds of up to 50 miles an hour are not uncommon in Patagonia. This lends itself to some amazing  cloud formations.

It’s impossible to understand how vast and beautiful Patagonia is without visiting it yourself.