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marie’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Location: Frans Josef, New Zealand

Map26/05/09 - Wednesday

Hiking up Frans Josef Glacier.

Starting at 9:15am we checked in at the glacier base collecting our waterproof trousers, coats, hats, gloves, boots and cramp-ons. After a group photo with Alex and Louise we were ready for the off!

15minutes in the mini bus and we were at the beginning of our glacier walk, or so we thought! Making our way through a forest we arrived on the other side to be confronted in amazement by the effects of a glacier. A vast area of open space with rubble and rock scattering the valley floor.

As we stood it would take us 40 minutes to reach the base of the glacier, which took us by surprise as it looked alot closer. Due to the shape of the valley it formed an optical illusion.

Once at the base of the glacier we talked through the techniques of walking on the glacier and then proceeded to put our cramp-ons on.

Where the Frans Josef Glacier stands today is due to it receeding since 2005. It once reached the Tasman Sea. It continues to receed today, which is why it is such a popular attracton for tourists.

The beginning of the glacier was the hardest as the man made steps were steep and rubble. However once on the glacier itself the incline was steady and the views were more impressive the higher we went.

Just over a 1/4 of the way up we came to our first obstacle, a small ice tunnel, which even I struggled to get through let alone Anthony! Louise and I were starting to feel the burn so, when lunch time came around it was a happy relief! Eating our lunch on the glacier felt very surreal and cold on the old derrier, but so amazing!

With full tummies we carried on our way. Our guide was infront creating a path for us to follow, so we joined the 1st group for the beginning of our second leg. Climbing down another set of steep steps we came up against our second obstacle, a really tight crevis. Poor Louise got a little panicked so I took the lead. To say we got soaked is an understatement! Reaching the end of the crevis cold and wet we plodded on feeling the chilly breeze even more.

We came across a fresh glacier water spring, which we filled our water bottle up from, heaven! However if you ever get the chance to try fresh glacier water, go up stream from where ever the last person went to the toilet!

Our next obstacle to tackle was climbing down a small crevis, with steep steps on both sides and a rope bolted into the ice to hold onto. Once at the bottom we clambered through another ice tunnel where, thank goodness our guide, Dan, (built like a Moari rugby player) was waiting to pull us out at the other end.

Nearly at the top or as far as we were able to go, we came up against one more crevis, which was as tight as the first and on a steep incline. The boys had to pull the girls through the tight spots and a marvellous job they did too. Reaching the end of the crevis we had finally made the top!

The sense of achievement when reached the top was immense! The views were absolutely breathtaking and the only thing i could think of was "I hope theres a quicker way down!!" Thankfully there was and it only took us about another hour and a half! Atleast it was pretty straight forward.

At the bottom of the glacier we looked back at what we had just climbed and it seemed unbelievable. Feeling very hungry and tired we were dropped off at the base, where we then made our way to the chippy!

Just about to settle down for an early night we heard the Welsh accents of Aled and Jemma! So much for an early night!