A throng of ice and spires  

A throng of ice and spires

If these frozen formations were named by more literal minds, we might know them as simply "reverse icicles." But the Andes, including this mountain pass rising above Chile"s Atacama Desert, were mapped by poetically inclined Spanish explorers. They likened formations like these to a congregation of penitent parishioners kneeling at mass: hence the common name "penitentes" for such packed-snow pinnacles.

© Art Wolfe/Danita Delimont

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