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My (Almost) Private Patagonia
Photographer David McLain - Click to Enlarge
Photographer David McLain

Photographer David McLain goes on an exploratory mission to paddle the glacial lakes of Chile's southernmost latitudes.

"Everyone who loves the outdoors dreams of going to Patagonia," says Portland, Maine-based photographer David McLain. He got his dream assignment last winter when writer Tim Cahill invited McLain on an exploratory mission to kayak the glacial lakes of southern Chile (see "The Accidental Explorer's Guide to Patagonia" in the May 2003 Adventure—read excerpt).

"And it doesn't disappoint. I was amazed by the sheer grandeur and awe-inspiring beauty at every turn," said McLain.

Prior to his departure last winter with Earth River Expeditions owner and guide Eric Hertz, McLain heard rumors that portions of Patagonia's Northern Icefield were so inaccessible that few, if any, humans had ever set foot on its majestic glaciers or paddled across the mountain-top lakes.

Though extremely isolated, McLain and his crew found significant evidence of human activity, from macheted trails to the sight of climbers nearby.

The notion that no human had previously traveled through these parts was not only highly unlikely, but also rooted in an outdated philosophy, according to McLain.

"I'm amazed at how many people think that being 'the first' to go somewhere makes a place valuable."

Instead, McLain suggests a different frame of thought. "I'm new school. I don't want to be the first, I want to be the one who listens and learns from people and places. I want to share, take in and exchange—not conquer."

Here, David McLain shares the portraits he took of this barely-explored corner of Patagonia.

—Mary Anne Potts

Portrait courtesy David McLain

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Map by Computer Terrain Mapping

May 2003

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