Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
65Trip End Mar 31, 2010
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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed and stayed at a hostel
We split into groups and were assigned to a guide. The guide I followed was a young woman, probably about 25 or so. She swung her pic axe the entire day making steps in the ice for us. I was impressed at how tough and strong she must have been to do that. The guides have to be on the glacier at 6am to carve out steps for the hikers before they get there every morning. This is necessary because the glacier moves and changes daily. At the foot the ice can move a meter a day, at the top, up to 10 meters a day.
The whole experience of being on a glacier seemed almost bizarre to me. I've learned about them in school and despite living in very cold conditions back home I never pictured glaciers in present day. They seem so archaic, something that carved the earth millions of years ago. True, but they continue to do the same every day. On the ice I realized several times how happy and thankful I was to be experiencing things like this.
Throughout the day we climbed up, down, sometimes with the help of ropes, through cracks and crevices. At times it felt dangerous and it made me think that they would never let you do something like this in America. I appreciate the fact that I am responsible for myself. At one point during the hike our guide led our group through a crevice that had just cracked the night before. It was such a slim fit between the walls of ice that I found it a challenge mentally and physically. Walking sideways I had to take off my backpack and the entire front and back of my body was pressed against either side of the ice, which of course was freezing cold and soaked my clothing with run-off water. I was the first to go through after the guide and at one point I thought I was going to get stuck. I had to use momentum to push my body through the tight fitting space. At one point I tried to turn my body forward facing and the width of my hips wouldn't allow me! I made it through, as did the rest of my group, although I don't know how some of the guys made it through.