The glacier, whose area is around 95 square kilometers, is located in the Laguna San Rafael National Park in the Chilean part of Patagonia. The National Forestry Corporation, a non-profit government agency that manages the forests, cited an increasing risk to tourists as the reason for the closure. Due to rapid melting, the glacier has become dangerous for crossing and other adventure activities.
“There is an obvious risk and uncertainty about the behavior of the glacier. The conditions for tourism are not safe,” the AP agency quotes the non-profit.
The closure comes after a giant chip broke off from the main part of the glacier in early October. Experts therefore initiated an intensive two-week study, during which they found that the glacier had crossed the safety line. Since 2020, according to the Independent, the mass of ice has thinned by half a meter.
However, the national park as such remains open to visitors, the glacier can be viewed from afar during a boat cruise.
There is always a risk, the guide says
The closure of the glacier is hard for some guides. Bianca Miranda, who has worked here for over a decade, told the AP that it’s not just the economic aspect of the matter, but also the emotional one.
“We have worked here for over ten years and the glacier has become our second home. We work in tourism that focuses on adventure activities, so there is always risk. If we close here, let’s also stop climbing Everest, mountains, cancel skydiving,” said the guide.
The Independent reminds that lovers of glacier climbing have to adapt to new conditions all over the world. Higher temperatures also affect other popular places. Last year, for example, several people died in northern Italy when a melting glacier triggered an avalanche. At the same time, a number of companies were canceling ascents to Mont Blanc, also due to the melting ice.