Snow and ice penitents, are things I like to study. Certainly their limited range makes them a mere glaciological curiosity in comparison to solving problems such as determining the contribution of Greenland ice sheet to sea level rise, but they are interesting nonetheless and understanding the mechanisms of their formation might provide useful information to hydro-meteorological studies in arid mountains, and space science, and who knows what else.
The name penitentes for these snow and ice structures comes from their similarity in appearance of to the Catholic Penitentes (also known as Nazarenos) seen in the processions during Easter holy week in Spain and elsewhere. These Penitentes are seeking forgiveness for their sins. They hide their identity to preserve the focus on Jesus’ sacrifice, and the shape of the conical head-dresses known as capirotes signify their penance and yearning to be closer to the heavens.
I saw the processions last year in Granada, but unfortunately I only had photographs of Penitentes from a brotherhood that wore purple so the image used here is from the website Andalusia.com, chosen for its fortuitous similarity to the layout of the snow penitentes featured in my previous post.