Across the Patagonian Ice Field – Life on the Ice, Southern Argentina
As far as we know, a photographic workshop has never before been held on the Patagonian Ice Field. We are extremely thrilled to announce this first-of-its-kind expedition for photographers.
You have surely seen thousands of images of the iconic mountains Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy. But how many photos have you seen shot from the other side of these mountains? That's right - not many. Yet the views from the ice cap are far more striking than those from the easily accessible viewpoints by the road. The Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest mass of ice on Earth and is a virtually untouched remote wilderness area.
The adventure will be led by two highly experienced mountain guides and the American outdoor photographer Michael Clark. Michael’s work is used by many notable organizations, as outlined below. The expedition is eleven days long, and you will spend a week of this trekking across the ice cap and photographing the stunning Marconi glacier, Cerro Torre, Fitz Roy and numerous other majestic peaks rising straight from the ice. The experience may be similar to landing on the Moon, in that the landscape will be unlike anything that you have photographed before.
If there were SEAL special forces made up of adventure photographers, Michael Clark would certainly be commanding a squad. He has been on assignments to some of the remotest locations on Earth, and his work is widely published by magazines and newspapers such as National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Outdoor Photographer and Outside. It appears that this hasn't gone unnoticed; his work is regularly used by commercial clients such as Nikon, Apple, Red Bull, Microsoft and Patagonia, among many others. Michael is among the very few photographers chosen to photograph the prestigious Patagonian Expedition Race. You can learn more about his work on our team page.
Day 1: Meeting the group and hitting the road
El Calafate, Argentina. On the first morning you will meet the expedition leader, Michael Clark, and a private transfer will take you to the mountain town of El Chalten. On the way we will stop to take photographs of the majestic glacial lakes Lago Argentino and Viedma Lake. Nearer our destination you will get a first glimpse of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. On arrival in El Chalten you will meet our ice cap guides and prepare for the adventure. We will stay overnight at a local hotel.
Day 2: Starting the hike towards the ice field
After breakfast we will check and pack all the gear and food needed for the following week on the ice. In the afternoon we will hike for 2-4 hours to reach our first camp. We will pitch the tents and prepare a delicious dinner to celebrate our first night out of the civilization.
Day 3: Hiking up towards the Patagonian Ice Field
This will probably be the longest and the hardest day of the expedition. We need to hike for 8-9 hours on the majestic Marconi Glacier and gain elevation of 2900ft (about 900m) before reaching our next camp. On a clear day the views of the peaks Fitz Roy, Piergiorgio and Pollone are magnificent! If the weather is bad, we will camp near the glacier for another night.
Days 4, 5 & 6: Across the ice cap
We will continue crossing the Patagonian Ice Field, photographing the iconic mountains of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, the Videma Glacier and the amazing ice sculptures around us. Each day we will start with a morning shoot and breakfast before trekking for 6-8 hours. We will set camp each afternoon before a sunset shoot and dinner.
Days 7 & 8: Contingency planning: reserved ‘bad weather’ days
We need to keep a couple of days in the itinerary spare in case we are blocked by a storm for a day or two at one of the camps on the ice field. If the weather is good and we are near the edge of the ice cap at the end of the first week, we will set camp for a couple of nights and continue photographing the stunning mountains around us. (If there is a bad weather forecast for these days we will get to El Chalten earlier and continue going on short treks to shoot in the direction of Fitz Roy.)
Day 9: Walking back to civilization
We will trek down to El Chalten on an easy trail for about 6-8 hours. By this point we will have done a full circumnavigation of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. We will stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: Critique and image reviews
Time to back up all the images that you have created throughout the adventure and sit down with Michael Clark for a detailed review and critique of selected shots. Before the expedition we will provide you with Michael's e-book, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A Professional Photographer’s Workflow. During this day you will get useful feedback and advice from him; whilst this will be provided throughout the expedition, on this day it will be the main focus. Of course, you can still keep on photographing the breathtaking Patagonian mountains from the small town of El Chalten in the evening. We will stay overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Last day of shooting on the way back
After breakfast the group will be transferred by private minibus to the El Calafate. On the road we may stop a couple times by the massive lakes to take photographs and we will keep our eyes peeled for guanacos and condors. In the late afternoon we will say goodbye to each other in El Calafate. This is where the services of Vertical Shot come to an end - but from there you can continue on another adventure as you will be in the heart of Patagonia, close to Tierra del Fuego and Torres del Paine ... and actually not too far from Antarctica.
* This is a provisional itinerary. Patagonia is known for some very changeable weather and we reserve the right to adjust the program in case of storms, etc.
Fitness level: Hard
This is a strenuous trek in a harsh environment. No technical skills or previous glacier walking experience are required, but it is a must to have camping and trekking experience prior to starting the expedition. When completing the booking form, please outline your previous outdoor experience.
You should be fit to hike with a 50 pound (25 kg) backpack for 6-8 hours per day (unless you wish to hire a porter and trek just with your camera gear - please see below).
If you prefer to carry a lighter backpack you could hire a porter for $1400 extra. Each porter can carry up to 18 kg (37 pounds) of your belongings in addition to their own equipment and food.
The saying “If you don't like the weather, come back in 5 minutes” probably originates from Patagonia - it experiences some very changeable weather.
January is the peak of summer in Southern Argentina, and you can expect temperatures between 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit ( 5 to 10 degrees Celsius) while trekking on the ice cap, and up to 65Fº ( 18Cº ) in El Chalten.
The group will meet in the morning of Day 1 and will say goodbye in the afternoon of Day 11. We will be happy to help you out with travel advice - just get in touch with us.
One-to-one photography tuition by Michael Clark.
UIAGM-IFMGA certified mountain guide.
Assistant mountain guide.
Three nights lodging in a single hotel room in El Chalten.
Breakfasts while staying at the hotel in El Chalten.
All meals in the mountains (dehydrated and homemade).
Seven nights lodging in tent camps and basic huts (each tent is shared by two to three people).
The following gear: Marmot 4-season tents, stoves and cookware, snowshoes (if necessary), crampons, harnesses, ropes, sleds/pulkas, first aid kits, GPS beacon.
Private transfer for the group El Calafate – El Chalten – El Calafate.
A copy of Michael Clark’s e-book, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A Professional Photographer’s Workflow.
Participation in a private digital platform where you can get to know the other participants and can access support from the VSE team.
Bespoke email support and help with your preparations for the expedition from the Vertical Shot Expeditions team.
Flights to/from El Calafate.
Lunches and dinners while staying at the hotel in El Chalten.
Accommodation in El Calafate (optional, depending on your flights).
Gratuities for the mountain guides and the porter(s), should you feel their services were exemplary.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of experienced guides and outdoor photographers at the Vertical Shot Expeditions base camp.