"Dont talk to me... i'm ill..."

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Hurrah, summer is here, or so the calendar says. As usual it was windy and pissing it down, something we were getting used to in the South Island. Its funny as the country's weather was making the papers because it was so bad for this time of year... great.

We spent the previous day gold panning and visiting a bushman's museum (how people used to hunt animals in the bus), but because everyone on the bus was feeling so rough from the fancy dress night, no one was that interested in find their fortune by squatting next to a river for an hour. That said, we did all find a bit of gold, but not enough to quit working for the rest of our lives!

Waking up in the morning, I made what I now know, the wrong decision to climb the might Franz Josef Glacier. I was starting to come down with the flu, and walking in freezing conditions didn't help it at all. That said I still had a really good time, and would have been gutted if I hadn't of gone up.

Franz Josef is literally just a mountain of ice. It's the remaining snow that summer melt has been unable to remove from the cooler heights up in the mountains. Every year another layer of snow is added. Time and sheer weight fuse the snow crystals into clear ice which makes the glacier we walked up. Depending on the weight and how much ice melts at the bottom, the ice actually flows up and down, at the moment it is receding at a rate of 30cm a day.

Feeling a bit crook, I opted for the lowest fitness standard of walkers, i.e. women and fat people, whereas Dan, Dave and Nick saw "themselves more as an immediate" (Yellow Pages advert). It was hard not to feel a little bit like an Everest explorer with the amount of kit we had to wear. We jumped into our crampons (spiked shoes), grabbed our ice axes and started to climb the steep steps carved out of the ice. It was a bit worrying to see a sign saying EXTREME DANGER, do not enter, but I'm sure our guide knew what he was doing!

All in all we were walking for about 8 hours and on the glacier for about 5. We walked on unstable ice, over bridges made out of ladders and through tight crevasses on our way to the top. Our guide wasn't the most popular person when he decided to take us through a 'puddle' of water that actually ended up waste deep. There were a lot of cold & wet people by the end of it! One thing that I enjoyed was the fact you could drink the water running down the many streams. It was arguably the best mineral water I had ever tasted, and a relief as I had drank my supply of water very early on in the day!

Although it obviously made my flu 10 times worse, but as you can see from the photos, it was worth the 2 weeks of illness!
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