Punta Arenas is the closest a big city gets to Antartica. The implications of that fact are nowhere felt better as on the top of the Cerro Mirador, the mountain overlooking the city.
I have to admit the weather conditions in Punta Arenas can be fairly mild during the whole year, thanks to the tempering influence of the ocean all around. The top of the mountain however houses a completely different world with circumstances much worse than in the lowlands.
We had an experimental plot on top of this mountain, almost 650 meters above the city. Year after year, the weather seemed to be doomed on this plot. No matter how good the conditions at sea level, the top of Cerro Mirador is bitingly cold and haunted by snow storms.
And while Punta Arenas already has a reputation of a city with devastating winds, the top of the mountain seems to double that wind speed easily (beware of murderous pieces of ice hurling down from the top of these masts!).
All together, our highest plot in southern Chile is the best place to experience the real ‘Antarctic’ feel without having to go to the cold continent itself.
… I admit, that last sentence was a bit of an exaggeration. There is still a lot of live surviving there (although even our strongest non-native species finally bail out here). The Nothofagus trees are reduced to a stubborn shrub-like growth form, but they bravely persist.
And there is always that one brave little animal I showed before, proving it is all not as bad as it looks!