Ice Hiking - By Kate
11.03.2009 - 12.03.2009 14 °C
Arriving at the Fox Glacier we decided to try our hand at Ice Hiking. Fox Glacier Guides were offering a half day hike which included one and a half hours hiking up through forest to get to the glacier and around an hour hiking on the actual glacier itself. At 1:35pm we arrived at the centre to be given our equipment and meet our guide. The summer walking shoes we had brought before we left England weren't really going to be up to the job of walking on a piece of ice that was hundreds of metres thick so we would have to borrow some more suitable boots.
Kitted out we headed off to the start of the glacier and the next four odd hours of serious hiking. The ascent was pretty hard going and the weight of my workman like boots weren't exactly helping. There were around 700+ uphill steps that needed to be traversed before we even got close to the glacier. With our guide pushing us on we all made it to the various pausing points without incident. Soon it would be time to strap on our crampons and climb onto that ice.
Firstly though we had to traverse a couple of areas where shifting rocks could have fallen on us at anytime. Cling onto a chain rope whilst negotiating steps up the side of a pass. Climb a 3 metre ladder to reach the final section which of course was more steps leading even further upwards. Arriving at the edge of the glacier we were all instructed on how to attach our crampons and told a few tips on how not to spend the next hour sliding all over the ice!!
The steps that were taking us up onto the glacier itself were freshly cut that morning and such is the ever changing environment new steps have to be created afresh each day ready for the next batch of ice hikers. We stomped our way over the glacier climbing higher and higher untill we got to a suitable vantage point where photos could be easily taken to record our assent. During all this our guide was giving us lots of factual information about the glacier, how it was formed, how it's changing etc etc. I wish I could tell you more detailing these wonderful facts but the truth is my thoughts simply kept returning to the fact that a) my feet were bloody freezing and b) we still had to hike all the way back to the bottom to get the bus back! Still, the views were pretty amazing.
In actual fact the journey back down was a lot faster than going up and once we reached the bus and I could look back at the amazing and beautiful glacier that I had just spent the last four hours climbing I once again felt that sense of achievment.....along with the dull ache of cramp starting to form in my thighs and shins!