The Southern Patagonia Icefield, which covers more than 12,000 square kilometres in southern Argentina and Chile, has reportedly split into two with large sections breaking off glaciers in Torre del Paine. The icefield is three times larger than the Northern Patagonia Icefield and famous climbing peaks such as Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy are located within it.

Gino Casassa, chief of the Snow and Glacier Division of Chile’s DGA water authority, told Reuters that high temperatures along the Andes Mountains have resulted in less snow fall which is needed to decrease glacier melting. Casassa said the entire Southern Patagonia Icefield has “split in two, and we’ll likely discover further divisions to the south.”

In Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, two large icebergs broke off the Grey Glacier, one of the major ice features in the region. “What occurred is a fracture as the ice has retreated,” Casassa said. The piece that broke off was over 200 square kilometers. For more information on the melting of Patagonia glaciers, watch the video by NASA below.

Torres del Paine is a popular climbing area with stunning granite peaks, but the weather is unpredictable and many expeditions have been shut down.

In 2015, Ines Papert and Mayan Smith-Gobat summited Torres Central in Torres del Paine via the Riders on the Storm 5.12 A3, 1,300m, 25 years after the first ascent by Wolfgang Güllich, Kurt Albert, Bernd Arnold, Peter Dittrich and Norbert Bätz. It was only the fifth known successful ascent of Riders on the Storm. Watch below.

Torres del Paine Moderate Climbs

Regular Route III 5.7 on Almirante Nieto
West Face III 5.8 on Aleta de Tiburon/Shark’s Fin
Southeast Ridge III 5.10 on El Gemelo Este/The East Twin
Regular Route III 5.8 on Cuerno Principal/Main Horn
Taller del Sol IV 5.10c on North Tower
Monzino Route IV 5.10 on Torre Norte/North Tower

Riders on the Storm

Patagonia Icefield Melting

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