To "The Edge" -- by Emily

If any of you have ever been ice climbing before, you will know that it is about the most difficult thing in the world to prepare for. You need to get on great big boots, crampons, sagging waterproof pants, etc. Then, you have to get your tools (ice axe, rope). Well, we weren't quite ice climbing, but we had all the gear. The tight-fitting flimsy inner boots, the plastic outer ones, then strapped onto those, extremely sharp crampons. Then hiking pants, waterproof pants. Lightweight shirt, light fleece jacket. Heavy fleece jacket. Windjacket. Fuzzy hat. Everything. Don’t forget, all of this was put on outside of a mountain hut that was our starting point, out in the whipping winds and freezing cold (maybe a little bit of an exaggeration) temperatures.

After getting on our mountaineering outfits, we each got on a complicated harness (all in pink and purple, they looked especially good on Alex and Tim) and were tied to a rope that tied us all together. You may think that we were going to climb up cliffs of ice and snow, but actually this is the most technically easy climb they offer. In fact, we’re very lucky they offer a trip to “The Edge” that’s so easy. From the list we thought that the least difficult trip included being dropped into a deep crevice in a glacier and having to climb out on your own for “practice”. Our ropes were just for safety, thank goodness.

The climbing itself wasn't actually that challenging, though there were some interesting features, primarily the crevices in the glacier. There were several different types: the wide gaping holes, the small yet extremely deep cracks, and the cracks that are not yet opened up where all you can see is a small bump in the snow. Also, we were required to walk at exactly the same pace. The rope we were all attached to had a knot in the middle of the area between each of us, and that knot had to drag along the snow, but none of the rest of the rope was allowed to. It was trying, to be sure. Finally, there was the fact that we were walking across a glacier. At one point, our guide Mo (his real name is Mauricio) informed us that we were in the center of the glacier. In other words, we were standing on top of over 150 feet of snow and ice. Sounds pretty “cool”, huh? Just as we were leaving the center of the glacier, my rope suddenly pulled tight. I looked behind me. Mom was gone!

Just kidding!

At last we reached “The Edge” (that’s the collective name for the place on the mountain Tronador where a snow field suddenly stops and continues in the form of a 3300 foot cliff). After peering over the edge, we settled in to snack on chocolate and pretzels (I know, it’s an unlikely combination). Mo had even brought along a thermos of tea for the adults. We spent ... maybe ... an hour up there during the course of which we saw several chunks of ice fall off the glacier accompanied by loud roars. The view was beautiful, including a thundering waterfall, a river full of rapids, and a lush forest. Tim and I built a snowman for which we chose the extremely creative name “Snowy”. The adults chilled out and chatted with Mo and a very nice woman (the sister of the man who runs the hut, but she was only visiting; she doesn't work there) who had come along on our climb.

Pretty soon it was time to head down. The descent was much easier than the climb up; we were down in less than 45 minutes. Just as we were heading to the hut .... wump! My dad tripped on his crampons and did a face plant into the snow, right in front of some children at the hut that Tim and I had befriended. This time, I’m not kidding. How embarrassing that was! Luckily, after that little episode, we had no trouble making our way back to the hut and getting out of our extensive gear. Then, we had plenty of time to observe where we had been standing on “The Edge”.