Fri Feb 2: ICE IN THE SUN
Trip Start Jan 18, 2007
24Trip End Feb 10, 2007
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Where I stayed
Rebecca told us that the glacier has actually been advancing at approximately one metre per day for the past 20 years, (although 0.8m melts off the end of it per day also), but that's a net gain! Wow, we're glacier surfing! Ironically this is a result of global warming, with warm air being blown across the Tasman Sea from Australia, absorbing moisture as it goes, and then depositing increased snow-dumps on the West coast mountains, due to the extra moisture. The weight of snow compacts to ice, and forces the glacier down the slopes
My day was made by being allowed to cut some ice steps with Rebecca's ice-pick, for the group to ascend a steep slope. I'm not sure that mine were quite as neat as the professionals', so I felt the need to waive all legal responsibility for my work.
As we ventured further up the glacier, the slightly grimy appearance of the lower slopes gradually bowed out, and cobalt blue ice formations began to adorn the path slightly less travelled. The landscape was now one of exaggerated ridges and furrows, seemingly carved out of pure Harpic.
By the time we removed the crampons from our boots at the glacier edge, we had been on the ice for four and a half hours, and headed back down the hill, happy and exhillirated after an unforgettable experience.
In the evening we walked down the road to Lake Matheson, to catch a famous New Zealand view, across the lake towards Mount Cook. The lake wasn't as calm and flat as it is in the many post-cards we've seen of this view, (surely photo-shopped?), but it was wonderfully tranquil as we sat in silence, broken only by the chatter of quacking ducks. This is about as relaxed as it's possible to be whilst retaining a pulse.