Crampons, anyone? #NewZealand

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in Scotland – and much of the UK, I gather – we are dealing with snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. It’s not that we aren’t used to this in the Highlands, but it’s becoming rather tedious that it hasn’t changed since before Christmas.

We get the odd slightly warmer day, which melts the snow, and then it turns to ice. With a horse to care for even during lockdown, I’m out every morning, contending with ‘slid-sliding away’, as Paul Simon put it.

It’s a plus for exercise – all those tiny little steps – but not so good for keeping the joints supple. I commented to one of my friends I was going to invest in some crampons (yes I have, and yes, they’re marvellous), which brought me around to remembering the fantastic trip I took to New Zealand back in 2012 (ignore the date stamp on the photos, the camera setting was wrong),

These photos are from our ‘heli-hike’ up onto the Franz Joseph glacier. And yes, crampons were not a choice, but a necessity – you climbed out of the helicopter and hung onto its landing struts to lower yourself onto your backside, to put on your crampons. It wasn’t even possible to stand up without them!

Our guide for the 2 hour hike didn’t believe in over-dressing!
I’d been fooled by the Glacier Parkway in Canada into thinking glaciers were smooth. Wrong!
That’s me in the middle, wearing the standard kit issued for the hike.
Our guide chipping out new steps – this has to be done every day because the glacier is moving so fast it flattens them overnight.
This was originally scheduled to be a 4 hour hike, but time on the glacier was halved due to weather conditions. I’m not sure I’d have survived 4 hours!
The ice caves were genuinely this blue colour. You could climb down inside them, but I’m afraid that wasn’t for me!
Just enough room to walk with one foot in front of the other
And then the weather closed in really fast.

Once the weather changed it became dangerous to stay up there, so the helicopters were scrambled to come collect us.

One last bit of climbing to get up to the flat where they could land – wiggling through a hole just big enough to fit through, with the crampons on full display!

An experience never to be forgotten.

19 comments

  1. Amazing colours in the ice! I would love to be able to experience that πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an extraordinary experience. I’d love to do it again, but I doubt that’ll happen.

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      1. Just looking at thepictures though brought back a few half-forgotten memories which were lovely to revisit… including my first time on a mountaintop that was covered with that beautiful ‘meringue-like’ snow… the way it sparkled and the sheer beauty of it πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s something very special about mountains. One of the reasons I moved to the Highlands ❀

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      3. One of the reasons I woul dhave liked to do so too ❀

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh wowwwwwwwww Deb! Magnificent images. What an experience that had to be. I will admit, I shivered looking at your guide’s outfit among all that ice LOL. Okay, what’s a crampon? LOL. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The guide was Nepalese, so I guess they’re used to altitude and cold!
      Crampons are the spikey things you put over your boots to dig into the ice so you can walk – no mountaineer would go anywhere without a pair.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! Of course not, I didn’t know there was a technical name for the spikes πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a cool experience! Great photos, Deborah. I like the steps best. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Cool is the word for it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a pair of what’s called ‘yak traks’ here. They’re like a really strong rubber net with studs on that fit over any boot. Great for walking on icy bits with bum knees. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly what I ended up with – Yaktrax Pros – like snow chains for your boots! I haven’t slipped since I bought them last week, and believe me, the ice hasn’t gone away πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excellent! πŸ˜€ (for the yaktraks) … bah humbug! (for the ice)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I envy your advantage of having a British passport as to travel choices around the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you restricted with yours? I never even considered it, although of course Brexit is causing all sorts of travel issues for us now. Or rather, it will, once we are allowed to travel again!

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  6. Yes I am. A U.S. passport for example can’t get me to India. The time limitations to stay abroad on a U.S. passport are also an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did not know that. Wow, inconvenient.

      Like

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