Returning to Australia

Friday, July 28, 2006

New Zealand (2) - Franz Josef and my birthday!

After some 6hours on the road we finally reached the little moutain side village of Franz Josef - made famous for the Franz Josef Glacier and its brother the Fox Glacier (shown in pic)!! It was a beautiful little place full of hostels, backpackers and activity centres ready to feed the adventure junkies full of fun thrilling and dangerous experiences!! Something Nick and I thought we were ready to grab hold of!! We booked ourselves in for the 'Full day Glacier Walk' on the Franz Josef....yes that right 8 hours walking on a glacier (fully made of ICE in case people didn't know) that moved a couple of metres as and when it felt the need to!! Dangerous isn't the word!! Even better we decided to do it the day of my 21st birthday...guess i would have died doing something enjoyable!! Certainly wont be forgetting that birthday!

It was all exciting and nerve racking as we arrived at the centre at 8:15am with the peanut butter sandwiches and thermals! We were made to dress up in nice walking / hiking gear!! Very trendy blue!!! Complemented the eyes! Which would keep us warm and cosy through out the hike! I had to wear 2 pairs of thick socks and gloves just to keep the fingers and toes from freezing!!

After a 5min bus trip to the start of the 2.5km walk to the glacier we walked in the rain for 40mins to the face of the monster we were about the climb! Splitting our group of 40 in to groups of 10 we were placed in group 3 (not the advanced but not the dorment people!) with our guide 'Roar' (yes thats right 'roar' like a lion!!! He was a Danish man!!!) and headed forward to greet the first part of the climb (shown in pic below!) A little daunting to say the least but with the ice talonz "for superior grip in snow / ice" we walked one step in front of the other, holding on tightly to the hand rope up the face of what was to be the best experience of our lives!!!

Seriously there are no words to describe how amazing it was walking on something purely made out of ice!!! It wasn't even that cold because of the sheer amount of walking and climbing you had to do it!!! Good form of exercise!!

As we walked up the glacier, stomping the feet into the loose ice to ensure we didnt fall face first into a carvass 60ft deep Roar told us to prepare for our 1st carvass!! Seriously it is amazing how the body can bend and fold to fit through some pretty tight spaces (not for the faint hearted!!)!!

The 1st one (not the one in the pic)was the scariest as you had to slide in and then bend down to crawl on your hands and knees through thesmallest space ever!! After screaming "IM STUCK!!" and backing out arse 1st I made it through to be pulled out by an Irish Guy!! (Life saver!) After that you kind of got used to your face rubbing up against the ice and your ribs feeling crushed! Still its something i certainly won't forget...the ice was so beautiful, turqiouise in colour and so 'natural'.

It was such an outsounding' landscape something that could not be replicated!!! After a couple of hours of steep step climbing and walking we stopped for lunch with 3 or 4 other groups whilst Roar and Andrew carved out the final be known as the 'Cherry' as it was Andrews 1st ever own carved cravass!! An hour later and after hearing pommies (British women!) whinging about the cold...we walked apprehensively towards the 'Cherry!' Amazingly no-one had ever walked through it and only a couple more people will before the glacier moves and covers it over!!! Truely amazing!!

Once we reached as high as we could go the landscape was even more 'unreal' it was so mind blowing to imagine that the ice had craved itself into the beautiful shapes we were seeing and how we were able to walk on it!! Almost made you feel guilty for actually being there....thought you were ruining it or damaging it!

As the rain began to fall (again!) we made our way back down the glacier, walking over ice rock pools and down some more steep stairs, which most people slide down!! Reaching the bottom was an overwhelming (no tears though!) moment when everyone realised exactly what they had just done and how even if they did it again they wouldnt see the same cravass or ice sculptures they had just seen! Certainly everyone realised they wouldn't be forgetting the experience in a hurry!


Post a Comment

<< Home