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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Second Glacier Hike in Vestlandet, Norway

The other glacier we hiked on in Norway has receded almost a mile from the lake.  In the 80's, it used to come down to the lake.  So, we had a long walk to get to the base.  We had a woman guide from Nepal.  She and her husband work in Norway in the summer and go back to Nepal in the winter.  Not many tourists in Norway in the winter!

This glacier winds back and forth down from the "ice cap" at the top of the mountain.  An ice cap is an area of compacted ice in a valley that doesn't move.  Ice caps fill entire valleys and are often thousands of feet deep, sometimes more than a mile deep!  It's hard to imagine so much ice.  A glacier is the overflow of the ice cap, created when the valley overflows with ice, from years of snow, hail, and rain piled onto a valley that is already full.

Unlike the other glacier, this one is steep, so the hiking was a little harder.  Again, our group of 8 were all roped together, with crampons on our boots and ice axes in our hands. We really didn't need the ice axes, but they looked cool.  There was another hike we didn't have time for that involved using ice axes to climb walls of ice.  Jennifer said she wasn't interested in doing that one, so I'd have to go by myself if I ever got the chance.

The glacier as we approached the face.  The black on top is mostly rock dust, not dirt.  It looks coal black close up.  Note the group hiking in the upper left corner.

  Getting closer.

Here's a funny one.  These idiots jumped the safety barrier and went up to take pictures of each other touching the glacier.  Jennifer said they reminded her of the people on safari that went to get closer pictures with lions and got eaten.  Glaciers can break apart at any time, so we might have got to see them crushed by a few tons of ice.  No luck. I'm just jealous, of course.

Below is one of the numerous sinks on the glacier.  Meltwater runs along the glacier until it can find somewhere to go.  Tiny cracks eventually turn into wells hundreds of feet deep, draining the water all the way to the rock beneath the glacier.  I'd love to go rappelling down one of these!

Next time I go on a glacier hike, it's going to be inside the ice caves!  I've been wanting to do that every time, and every time they say "It's not safe now." 

Pure blue ice.  Mmm mmm.  

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