EL CALAFATE, Argentina — “There she goes!” exclaimed our excitable tour mate from Norway as a thunderous boom emanated from a glacier that looked the size of New Jersey.
“Nah, just another false alarm,” said a skeptical Scottish observer. “All noise and no action.”
Glacier watching has become a hot-ticket item, and we are in Los Glaciares National Park at the southern tip of Argentina waiting for the giant glacier to break apart.
Perito Moreno, also known as the “White Giant,” is a massive tongue of ice that stretches for 100 square miles. It is one of 50 glaciers in the Patagonian ice fields shared with Chile at the base of the Andes, but only one of three still growing.
Something rare is expected to happen this weekend. A large chunk of the White Giant will snap away and sail into Lago Argentino, and we are among several thousand spectators, cameras ready.
We stare motionless, waiting for this massive ice breakaway, and Perito Moreno seems to be staring back. It makes a growling sound periodically and sheds a little ice here and there. But the large, cavelike chunk scheduled to float off remains connected.
When it finally crashes into the lake, it is a private affair. It is 4 a.m., the park is closed, and only one security guard hears the tremendous boom and records the time. The last time Perito Moreno gave away some of its ice field, in 2008, was also in the middle of the night and there were no eyewitnesses.
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By DOMINICK A. MERLE and SUSAN MERLE / Special Contributors