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Glacier from ground and from air

Added: April 18, 2010

Tags: NewZealand RTW glacier mountains photos waterfalls
It is fantastic to live through our trip for the third time. The first time was when we were there, the 2nd time while I was processing photos and now for the 3rd time when I am writing this post. Our experiences from Franz Josef Glacier fully deserve to repeat them for the 3rd time. BTW while I am editing this post I am processing photos from Bolivia (Uyuni) on background making this post travelling flashbacks even more fun.

We had helicopter flight and we were also walking on glacier for a half day. I usually show all photos in one page, because I think some "quick scanners" would miss a link to the 2nd page, but there are too many photos here so the split is necessary.

Walking with Glaciers

We had not completely comprehended previous day yet, but another adventure was waiting for us next morning. We booked our tickets with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. They are in the same building as The Helicopter Line we used yesterday.

We came well ahead to check in, to take our equipment and put it on (apart from crampoons, they would not be useful here). I expected also waterproof overtrousers, but we did not get them, because it was warm and dry. I was not sure about it, but they should know better.

To the glacier

We got into their bus and were taken to parking lot near the glacier. Then we had to walk for about 40 minutes to the head of glacier. We started in forest, but we got to glacier moraine soon. I guess the glacier reached here before.

We were told the glacier grows and shrinks periodically and it is growing at this time (or when last measurement was done). Still it was about 30 minutes walk through moraine, between pebbles and boulders.

It was morning and quite cold. Luckily we had our stylish blue jackets :-)

Look, there it is!
Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier      DSC_1697_raw

Foot of glacier.
Franz Josef Glacier

Just to have some green on this page. These are examples of several waterfalls along the way. We were told water feeding them is coming from the glacier, even it did not look like that. And also that both glaciers - Franz Josef and Fox have one place they start off, but flowing in different directions.
waterfalls      waterfalls

Upward to the ice kingdom

After reaching the foot of glacier the guide explained what we can expect during walk, how to walk, how to put crampoons on (later I learned what happens when crampoons are attached improperly) and our subgroup has been passed to other guide so we are easier to manage.

We started to climb through moraine wall and then on the steps hacked in the ice. They were pretty steep and I started to get warm soon. My left crampoon started to fall off my foot and even Health & Safety ignoramus like me started to feel I should do something about it. Several attempts failed until I called our guide to show us what he is getting his money for :-)

guided walk on Franz Josef Glacier

- Scott, don't you think we should pull him up now?
- Nah, let's wait for 5 minutes more to see what he is capable of.

guides looking into glacier's crevasse


detail of glacier crevasse

guided walk on Franz Josef Glacier

Some small crevasses with blue ice.
DSC_1742_raw      DSC_1796_raw

Later we put off our jackets, it was rather warm and we were warmed by our climb so that we could be in t-shirts (people who know us are aware we don't usually wander around snowy fields in t-shirts).

Our guide left us up there and went to look for safe way. In case he could not find one, he just created one. All guides were usually busy hacking into ice to fix some steps or to create new ones. I guess they are substantial source of glacial deterioration :-)

Glacier walk guide fixes path      Glacier walk guide fixes path


We were not very happy when a guide told us to pass through this narrow pass where it was hard to fit a foot in, while he went around. But, we are paying for this experience! So get over your feelings of being stuck in the middle of freezing wetness and enjoy it. And I did on our way back through the same place. I can say, with time distance, this was the best part of whole walking.

Franz Josef Glacier

panorama of Franz Josef Glacier with guided walks