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Gorre Blanca, Patagonia Ice Cap, Argentina

The first in a series of articles

Somewhere near us, the border between Chile and Argentina slices through the ice. Lingering is not encouraged in such a place. But when we reached the pass, Gorre Blanca stands gleaming in the distance. I braced myself over my skis as the wind slammed into me. Gazing in awe over the vast expanse of the ice cap, I felt like we were on a frozen ocean with some of the most striking mountains in the world guarding the shore. Days of storms, common for Patagonian mountains, had kept us tent bound. With a rare break in the weather, our restlessness is replaced with euphoria in the largest non-polar ice cap in the world.

Wind and snow continued to pummel as a single entity, stinging my face. We pushed forward across the expanse. As I moved on I thought of the first men to ascend Gorre Blanca's icy reaches. Pedro Skarvca and Luciono Pera first set foot on the peak in 1962. I'd recently met each of them, in Buenos Aires and Calafate, respectively. During all the years since these men made exploratory climbs together in a land still marked on maps as Inesplorado (unexplored) the two have remained friends and chose careers that kept them close to these mountains. I thought of the bonds forged in such places. I pictured Pedro's bloodshot eyes and strong Spanish frame and smiled at the thought of speeding through the streets in Luciano's car, his Italian blood still pumping strong. These men are Patagonia.