Ventisquero Colgante: The Hanging Glacier of Queulat

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Ventisquero Colgante, or the Hanging Glacier, is located in the Queulat National Park, in Chile, and is the park’s biggest attraction. Hanging above a ravine of bare rock, it dominates a valley formed by mountains covered in valdivian temperate rainforest, and feeds a river at the bottom of the valley as it melts. The water melting from the glacier creates two towering waterfalls as it drops 600 meters on top of a huge slab of angled bedrock, and then flows underneath what appears to be a permanent avalanche cone. As the stream leaves this underground section, it forms a small lake - Laguna Témpanos - and then after some 6 km enters the Canal de Puyuhuapi. The falls are visible and flowing all round the year but due to the ablation of avalanches at the base of the falls, as much as half of the falls can be covered by snow and ice during the late spring and early summer.

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Ventisquero Colgante was discovered in 1875 during an exploration led by Captain Enrique Simpson. Captain reported that the snow of the glacier was just 100 meters from the bank of Canal de Puyuhuapi, where Captain used to moor his boat. It is not entirely clear whether he saw the waterfall and whether this waterfall was visible at all. In all likelihood, it wasn’t. The waterfalls was created much later, as the glacier retreated and the cliff wall became visible. If Captain’s observation is true, then the glacier has retreated 8 km during the last 140 years.

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Sources: Wondermodo / Waterfalls Database / elpangue.com

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