A Gift of Glory – Sunrise over Cerro Torre, Patagonia

Gathering on the moraine below Cerro Torre for the sunrise light show

Gathering on the moraine below Cerro Torre for the sunrise light show

The firefly glow of our headlamps mapped out the winding trail through trees and boulders to the moraine, the ghostly spire of Cerro Torre just peeking over the top.   Cresting the ridge, across our field of view was luminescent ice, vertical rock and water: Laguna Torre and behind it a row of high sheer pinnacles rising above a sweep of glaciers, the magnificent Cerro Torre (10,262’) rising above it all. Our guide had shaken my tent in the pitch black an hour earlier, his excited voice announcing “it’s crystal clear!” – welcome words indeed after the previous disappointing day of clouds, wind and sleet. Now here we were, arrayed along the moraine with cameras at ready watching the light show begin.

First the sky deepened to brilliant violet. The highest tips of the pinnacles were touched by pink, which then shifted to intense salmon and orange and moved down the faces to paint the snow. All this was captured by nearly perfect mirror-images in the lake.   And then, as suddenly as it had started, the display was over and we stood mute with amazement at this rare gift of glory, made even rarer by the notoriously capricious weather of southern Patagonia.

And the show begins! First the sky turns violet...

And the show begins! First the sky turns violet…

Then the first tinge of salmon-pink on the tops

Then the first tinge of salmon-pink on the tops

Sunrise glow on the tip of Cerro Torre

Sunrise glow on the tip of Cerro Torre

The color deepens to salmon pink and moves down the slope

The color deepens to salmon pink and moves down the slope

Culminating in a bright orange

Culminating in a bright orange

Resplendent sunrise-lit Cerro Torre reflecting bright in Laguna Torre

Resplendent sunrise-lit Cerro Torre reflecting bright in Laguna Torre

And, after a mere minutes, the show is done - heading up to our next camp!

After mere minutes, the show is done – heading up to our next camp!