The Ice Sheets in the Andes Mountain


Snow can take capricious forms┬ácalled “penitents”. Penitents are pinnacles of snow formations that are found in high mountain areas. This phenomenon occurs more frequently in mountain areas of Argentina and Chile over the Andes, and has more to do with the effect of sunlight with the wind.

Penitents are shaped and hardened thin sheets of ice or snow which have a marked orientation by sunlight. Some penitents can reach 5 meters in height, being a hindrance, and sometimes, very annoying for mountain climbers and hikers.

Elaborating on its formation, the sun’s rays cause random dimples on the surface of the snow. Once a dimple is formed, sunlight can be reflected in the dimple, increasing the localized sublimation. This process continues until depressions are formed, leaving in place the peaks of ice.

If ever we are going through a high mountain area, it is likely to find this kind of ice in the most imposing peaks of the Andes.

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