Wednesday, December 3, 2003

The Half Day Glacier Walk (2 of ?)

Now, the Franz Josef glacier is, inconveniently, receding.  It is apparently one of the more active glaciers, in the sense that the little bugger can move upwards of a meter a day.  (One of my guides said 10 meters a day.)  The fact that it is receding means, as far as I'm concerned, that the damn thing is REALLY far from the car park.  So after the bus drops us off, we have to walk a distance (something in the 3-4 km family) to get to the damn glacier.  We're walking through a river valley -- the glacier used to encompass the entire valley -- now it's just a gorge through which a teeny trickle of river presently flows.

Along this walk, I realize that, yes, my boots are too big.  I also realize I'm already developing a blister.  Oh well.

What does the glacier look like?  Well, a glacier is a big pile of snow that gets pressed down and turns into ice and flows its way downward really slowly.  So, say you're looking at an opening between two mountains.  At the top of the opening between the two is a big pile of pretty white snow.  Moving on down, it's icy.  Near the bottom, there's lots of rock, which the glacier is pushing in front of it.  ("Think of a glacier as a giant bulldozer," we're told.)  So, once we've arrived AT the glacier, there's still basically a lot of rocks we have to "get up" before we get to any of the icy bits.  (I used the term "get up."  I was gonna say "climb," but it wasn't actually rock climbing.  Would you settle for "clamber over"?)

Now, to this point, we've been in a group of about 50, with a really nice, enthusiastic guide.  He says he'll break us up into four groups of 13 each -- ranging from the "fast" group to the "National Geographic" group.  The latter being the slow, leisurely paced, really relaxed group with lots of photo breaks.  He says he'll be leading this group and I am SO signed up for it -- I'm pretty winded and we haven't even set foot on the glacier yet.



1 comment:

pegluh said...

How strange: Maybe I should not say this but we were helicoptered right onto the icefall -- rain jackets, poles, talons and all.