Monday, 30 April 2012

Glacier Walking

We wake-up in the morning, tired and aching from the day before but are excited and ready for another action packed day. Today we are climbing a huge ice glacier up a mountain.

We get to the place where you collect your gear, I suggest that we should bring a packed lunch as the leaflet clearly states; however Adam reckons that they must clearly have a McDonalds at the top of this forever moving ice glacier. I know McDonalds is everywhere – however I seriously doubt that they have one there. My opinion was confirmed when Adam asked this to the the guide and he laughed and told us to go and buy lunch.

Before the trek we have an hour’s walk through the forest and then a 5k walk to the glacier base from the corner of the national park. The Park is an optical illusion making it seem closer that it is – it is all to do with the mountain being so huge.
We get to the base and are all divided into groups based on our physical fitness levels, team 1 being the most fit and therefore walking faster - down to team 5 which seemed to consist of the elderly and morbidly obese. I was tempted to place myself in this team due to my last voyage up a mountain, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I ended up in team 4 which included me, Adam, two snap happy Americans and a Japanese dude named Tiger!

Our guide has a pickaxe to carve out the steps to climb the glacier, we begin to climb and the experience is incredible, it’s amazing scenery like something from a movie. Climbing the ice is so fun it makes me feel like a kid again on snow day.

You see fantastic glaciers and formations in the ice like a blue cavern and smooth caves that you can climb and crawl in; it feels like a real adventure. We reach the top which feels like a massive achievement as it is pretty high, we can see group 1 on their way down and they look like ants.

At the top we all mess around with the pickaxe hitting the ice and posing for photos. When poor old Tiger has a slight disaster – he broke the pickaxe. It is kind of bad for all of us, as we are the last group up their as group 5 didn’t want to do the caves and had also gone down the mountain.

We had to move quick, as the steps that the last group made are melting and we don’t want to be stuck up the mountain. We move fast but you can tell that the guide is getting slightly worried as he slightly diverts from the track, and we end up on slightly dodgy ice.

I’m directly behind the guide and I step on a patch of ice that is weak and my foot plunges through the ground into the icy water. I am half in and half out of the freezing water. It was sooo cold and was a shock to the system. Everyone gathers round and they pull me out. I’m ok as my torso didn’t go under and I am just a lot wetter and colder than I was before – and I watch my step a bit closer.

We get down to the bottom relatively unscathed.

We then go to the glacier hot pools to relax and unwind after a tiring day. Then we want some fast food – I am way too tired to cook. We ask a local were McDonalds is and we are told it is in Wanaka 6 hours away – boy we really are in the middle of nowhere. We settle for a pizza and a movie and chill out.

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