Saturday, July 9, 2011


We went to a glacier a few days ago!  It was a day-long experience, too.  We left from Queenstown at about 4:30am (ugh!) and drove five and a half hours north to the Franz Josef Glacier in the Westland National Park.  It was really rainy, so we got all geared up and then headed up to the glacier.  
Leaving at 4am, most were still sleepy.  (Heather sleeps with her mouth and eyes open.)
Evidently, it is the steepest glacier that takes any guided tours...which is what we did.  I think the total climb from start to finish took about five hours and it was really amazing.
We wore crampons
To get to the glacier, we had to walk through rainforest.  (See the mountains in the distance?)

Closer view of the the mountains as we walked into the glacial valley.  (That white spot is rain on my lens, I think.)
So, we walked through this valley toward the glacier's terminal moraine, where the hike started to get steep and rocky.  By the time we got up to the terminal edge of visible ice, most of us were hot and wet (despite our "water-proof" pants and jackets).  We then put on our crampons and prepared for the ice.
The Franz Josef Glacier
The glacier looks small from a distance, but it extends too high up to see through all that misty stuff.

See how shiny the ice is?
Hiking up the face of the of the glacier was a good workout, alternating between digging our crampons into the fairly steep ice or marching up the ice stairs that have been carved out by the glacier tour guides (often using ropes for support).  But it was totally worth it -- the views of the glacial valley and surrounding mountains were great, and the glacier itself was beautiful.  Our guide took us over and through lots of deep blue crevasses (every time made me think of that Tenacious D song, Wonderboy -- "There! The crevasse!").

Kim and Heather glacier-ing
Me about to climb out of the crevasse
Strolling across some glacier...
Look at this blue ice!  We squeezed through it single file, one foot in front of the other.
Nobody got stuck!
Chillin' in an ice tunnel
Me and Uncle Trevor
"Bear Grylls!"
By the time we finished, we were all cold and wet and tired, and we had a five hour drive to get home.  Exhausting but good.  (So exhausting, I was too tired to blog when we got home.  Sorry for the delay!)

No comments:

Post a Comment