Franz Josef, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
43° 24' S 170° 11' E
Sep 05, 2007 22:56
Distance 167km

Text written in: English

Glacier Hiking

Left for Franz Joseph bright and breezy on Thursday morning.  After a beautiful bus journey I arrived around 5pm that night.  Settled into my new hostel (Rainforest Lodge) it really was right in the middle of the forest.  My glacier hike started at 8am the next morning so I went for an early night only to find a young guy bellowing 'Lady In Red' at the top of his lungs.. after having a chuckle to myself for several minutes I though he would stop .. but oh no.. he went on for a good few hours.. stopped for breath and then started again (something tells me he didn't realise how thin the walls were).. eventually I managed to get to sleep.  (He was still singing when I woke up the next morning...... you think i'm joking).

After we all got kitted out - over trousers, jacket, hat, gloves, boots, cramp-ons and ice axe we made our way out to the base of the glacier.  There was around 20 of us and we got split into two groups.. one that was interested in taking pictures, and one that was more interested in hiking.  I opted for the latter and decided i'd have to do 'on the go action shots' in order not to slow everyone down.. it was definitely worth getting my new camera for this!  The hike began and it was fairly hard going to start with.. pretty much vertical climbing.  The guides axed steps out of the ice for us as they went, it takes some talent.  after a good hour and a bit we took a break and had a snack .. the glacier itself was 150 meters deep and we were about a fifth of the way up at this point.  After 10 minutes or so we carried on (you couldn't wait too long .. it was so cold up there that you had to keep the heart rate up in order to keep warm).  After another hour we stopped for lunch.  My right boot had a hole in the toe and so my foot was soaked and thus.. numb.. so after 5 minutes I was banging it off the ice trying to revive it.  As the hike went on and we got higher we went through some crevices.. which were not only a stunning deep blue but only about 10 inches thick and we had to squeeze through them .. most were ok but one was really tight and all of us including the claustrophobic guide had to trouble getting through.. naturally at one point.. I thought I was never getting out.. but thankfully with a bit of hip and chest shuffling we made it through.  We made it up to the top after another hour or so and the view was amazing, not to mention lovely fresh clean air.  We hung around for another 5-10 minutes while Henry (our guide) ate his food and then we started to make our way back down.  All in all we were on the ice for about 6 hours. It was a great day.

I was shattered that night so another early night was on the cards.. thankfully Chris Rea had checkout out so I managed to get a good nights sleep. Off to Greymouth next!

Photos / videos of "Glacier Hiking":

The Franz Jospeh Glacier.  It doesn't look it but it was a 50 minute walk to it from where we were Henry our guide leading the way again ... Henry screwed a rope into the glacier for us to hold onto A crevice The group The beautiful blue ice View from the top of the glacier The glacier from the top And again.  the top of it spans over 32km (the size of Auckland) The view A (very) small tunnel that only one guy had the 'balls' to try and fit through His legs the other side Rather him than me The blue ice crevice This was not a good situation to be in if you'd over-indulged on dinner the night before.. The group managing their way through Henry making sure the path was safe Axing a big bit of ice (I couldn't really see what difference it made.. think he was just trying to be macho) The glacier Making our way through Hiking up the steep glacier walls Me and my delicious bumbag or is it fanny-pack? Our quick stop before heading back down Another crevice Heading back down Me! Henry 'installing' a rope