Torres del Paine National Park

Pio XI Glacier, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere outside Antarctica

Pio XI or Bruggen Glacier, Chile.

   Pio XI, also known as Brüggen Glacier, in commemoration of the German- Chilean geologist Johannes Brüggen Messtorff, is located at Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, XII Region of Magallanes, the southernmost region of Chile. Pio XI is part of the Southern Ice Field, a large mass of continental ice, the third largest in size after Antarctica and Greenland.

Without considering those of the White Continent, Pio XI, with its almost 1,300 Km.2 is the largest glacier in the Southern half of the Globe. Another remarkable feature of this huge glacier mass is that, unlike most of the world's glaciers and despite global warming, Pio XI has experienced a significant growth in recent decades being the only one that continues to grow every year. In fact, the ice advanced about 1.8 kilometers from 2000 to 2016. 
Among the theories that support its unusual increase, it is said that it should be due to the special topographical characteristics that make it very stable and a long season of solid precipitations. Currently, it has a length of 64 km, a front of 6 km and its towers reach a height of 70 - 80 meters above sea level.

Pio XI/ Brüggen Glacier is a tourist attraction for its remote location, dimensions, unique growth characteristics, bluish ice and the spectacle of its floes.

Other interesting facts   

In 1945 the salesian missionary, researcher, explorer and documentary maker Alberto de Agostini visited the place and narrated the story of a Norwegian settler who tried to establish a "Estancia"  (Ranch) at the head of the Eyre fjord in 1926, but had to leave the area because of the rapid advance of Pio XI glacier. According to reports of glaciology, in the 90s the force of the frozen mass generated a new lake, and the ice advanced directly on the forest, around the glacier, the dead trees accumulated and were crushed by the ice.

Image: Skorpios Cruises, Fjords and Glaciers in Patagonia
   79 percent of the glaciers existing in South America are located in Chile, most of which are in the Southern Ice Field. Southern Ice Field has a length of 350 km. and an area of 16800 km.2 of which 85% belongs to Chile and the rest to Argentina. Pio XI is the largest of the 49 main glaciers that form Southern Ice Field.

There is a mountain/cold climate, the temperatures are lower than 0º C., precipitations exceed 2000 mm a year and are generally in the form of snow. From October to March are the acceptable months to go on a trip to Pio XI. 

Although so far little promoted as a tourist attraction in Chile because of its remoteness, this glacial mass really represents a great spectacle due to its large size, shaded ice and the impressive view that constitutes the icebergs calving.

How to reach Pio XI Glacier   

Bruggen or Pio XI Glacier in Chile.
 Skorpios Cruises, Fjords and Glaciers
   It should be mentioned that there are no nearby cities or roads to reach the glacier. The access is by sea from Puerto Natales, where cruises to the magnificent glaciers of the Ice Fields are offered by specialized companies, through the so-called "Kaweshkar Route" or "Alacalufe Route". Best time to visit: October, November, December, January, February, March.    

Brüggen or Pio XI Glacier