Penitentes, or nieves penitentes ("penitente-shaped snows", in Spanish), are a snow formation found at high altitudes. They take the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced with the blades oriented towards the general direction of the sun. Penitentes can be as tall as a person.
These pinnacles of snow or ice grow over all glaciated and snow covered areas in the Dry Andes above 4,000 m (Lliboutry 1954a, Lliboutry 1954b, Lliboutry 1965). They range in size from a few cm to over five metres. (Lliboutry 1965, Naruse and Leiva 1997).
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