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Ice Pinnacles on Paso Agua Negra Road

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

These Ice pinnacles start as a solid glacier or snow field.

At this location the slowly moving ice compound eats a part of the international road between Argentina and Chile every winter. Therefore a caterpillar has to cut through the glacier every spring to free this short stretch of road from its solid winter ice cover.

The lower ice pack cut off from the glacier is usually between 1.5 and 3 meters (5 to 10 ft) thick. At this altitude - more than 4000 meters high - and below freezing temperatures the sun starts to sublimate (not melt) the ice during the day. Some spots loose a bit more ice and start to form shallow pits. The bottom of the hollow receives more radiation than the walls each day leaving the walls mostly intact but making the dells grow deeper and deeper until they reach the plain earth at the bottom. Several pits may merge until some free standing blades remain oriented towards the general direction of the sun.

At this place the penitentes are about man's size, but can reach up to 6 meters (18ft) when grown out of larger ice or snow fields.

The first one to describe the penitentes was Charles Darwin when making an excursion into the Andes on his historic journey where he developed the idea of the evolution of species. He must be in good humour when naming the ice blades penitentes (those who perform the Catholic Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession).

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Comments (40)

« Previous12Next »
Hugo Lopez on July 26, 2011

Hermoso lugar y mejor foto, Zerega. Ah! Cordillera con sus tonos dorados. Like & fav. Un gran abrazo desde Rivera, Uruguay

helki on August 27, 2011

Hello zerega!

At first, I want to thank you, following my invitation to the Karakorum Highway group! I'ts a pleasure to me, and I think, your photography work will revaluate this collection a lot.

This picture from the agua negra region is really splendid! Great ice needles! L22 and another YS11.

Have a nice weekend...helki

Claudia P. Jara on August 29, 2011

Magnifico lugar y foto.


Gracias por la invitación al grupo.

Saludos, Claudia

Buts Yuri on September 29, 2011

Fantastic shot, exquisite picture LIKE- 25! My regards, greetings from Ukraine! Yuri.

Philippe VADOT on October 10, 2011

Vraiment spectaculaire ! une très belle image.

meteocoll on December 24, 2011


Like + YS for it.

Tom Portschy on March 1, 2012

Fantastic! Like + Favorite

Best wishes from Hungary, Tom

j. fernandez on March 8, 2012
Reinhard Kerkeling on April 30, 2012

It is an amazing picture and it must been great to have seen this area completely. Kind regards Reinhard

Lady GooGoo La La on July 3, 2012

Nuther nanosecond click zooooom! YSL great coour and contrast, oh yeah beautiful place too! googoolar

Reza Dehghanizadeh on August 20, 2012

wonderful place

jaapberk1 on December 5, 2012


originaltk on January 29, 2013

raznih čuda ima na našoj prelepoj planeti.. i ovo je jedno od njih..

sjajna slika.. ~YSL~

Pozdrav, Tanja

Fonfon (NO Views!) on October 5, 2013

Fantastic place and great shot.
Greetings from France

j. fernandez on October 6, 2013

very nice photo

Bakos ART on November 28, 2013

Amazing ! Favourite image!

Christos Theodorou on March 26, 2014

Excellent photo!!! Greetings from Athens.

Serg Brandys on September 12, 2014

Hi, Stefan. Wonderful picture. Beautiful view. LIKE. Best regards, Sergey

Gaston Rafael on September 12, 2014

like and fav!

C.gpeña ☂ on September 12, 2014

Qué bonito! Like + Fav.

Saludos, Carmeta.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 25, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Stefan Sonntag (zere…