Franz Josef

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Sunshine!

Just what we needed!

I was booked onto a 9.30am glacier trip. But they don’t confirm if it will run until you arrive and are literally ready to go. And even then, they can cancel at any time.

But with some luck, they were running!

The glacier was formed during the last ice age – around 20,000 years ago. However, due to global warming the size is rapidly decreasing. You used to be able to walk from town up onto the glacier, but this is no longer possible as the glacier has retreated so far up into the mountains and too dangerous due to rock fall.

Now the only way is to heli-hike.

It was very well organised. We signed in. Given a wrist band. Filled some bits in on a computer. Got weighed. Then went to be kitted up.

We were given socks, boots, waterproof trousers, a waterproof jacket, crampons, hat, gloves, and a bag to put things in.

Then we were allocated a helicopter, and walked around 10 minutes through the rainforest to the helipad!

I’ve never been on a helicopter before. It was cool, but a bit scary – we were close to the trees!

The ride only lasted about 5 minutes. And we came to land on the glacier.

Our guide was waiting for us up here. He showed us how to put on crampons and how to walk. And we were off!

3 hours of walking around on the ice. Up stairs which had been carved in. Through tunnels. Through very, very, very narrow gaps – I thought I was going to get stuck.

We were gradually climbing up. And reached the high point, with a great view of all the surrounding ice and down into the valley.

The guide pointed out where the glacier used to reach up to on the side of the mountain – even just a few years ago. It has dropped a lot in the past few years.

The whole hike was amazing. And we were so lucky to be able to get up there and do it. They already knew they were cancelling the next few days. And even as we made it back to the helipad, we were told that all trips later that day has been cancelled.

The return helicopter ride was much better. We went for a small circle over the glacier – amazing views. And I was less terrified this time!

I went for lunch with a few people from my walk. To a burger place. I had a tofu burger. Was ok, but not amazing.

Then headed off the the hot pools. The water apparently comes from hot springs. They had three temperatures – 36, 38 and 40. The 40 felt really hot. But they were cool – set in the rainforest.

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