Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Ice Climbing, take one.

So the next few posts are going to be a bit of a catch up as I've fallen behind, yet again, on keeping everyone up to date.

So the best place to start seems like the time we decided that exploring the safe section of the Ice-Caves wasn't enough and that we simply had to strap ourselves into the ice and venture forth down to the bottom of the glacier.

The climb consisted of 2 main drops, the first of which was about 4-5 heavily inclined meters but nothing too troubling. Our anchors were 2 ropes buried and tied directly into the ice, each had a locking carabiner and connecting the two was a sling that auto equalised. From this we had a single locking carabiner that was attached to the rope that we rapelled on and before we began climbing we had to be locked into the anchor ourselves by a separate sling that was also attached to our harness. Safety first!

After rapelling down the first slope one by one we moved to the second location where the drop was somewhat more dramatic and sitting in the 8 meter range, also vertical. This run was somewhat faster than the first as we were familiar with the techniques and maneuvers required to successfully rappel. Crampons attached I nearly impaled my leg on the way down but I didn't which I'm counting as a win.

And we all reached the bottom in one piece, fantastic.

Then came the even more exciting bit, we had to ditch the larger bags and head for the tiny gap just a few more meters down the trail that required us to lie on our bellies and claw our way through, pulling smaller bags and supplies with us as we went. Not that I spent a huge amount of time pondering on it but there was an entire glaciers worth of ice above our heads, not something for the claustrophobic! Once through we entered a larger cavern where we decided we would have lunch, but not till after seeing just how far we could make it before getting stuck; turns out we could go quite a way further but not without again having to get on our bellies and squeeze through a gap just about big enough for my shoulders, so much fun! Once we reached an area that we could stand up, the ice nerds started examining the facets of snow that had formed in the belly of the beast, and postulated on whether they had been formed merely by the breath of explorers or whether there was some form of air tunnel leading to the surface that was allowing a supply of moist air to reach the lower depths. I'm not sure a conclusion was reached but I cared not so much as my feet were starting to get cold. No one likes cold feet. So we squeezed our way back to the cavern and had lunch, breakfast burritos! (confused yet?)

Once we had satisfied our curiosity and I had run out of batteries in my camera and GoPro, we decided to head back up. If you've never used ascenders, I highly recommend the challenge, you need impeccable coordination or you will, as in my case, successfully impale yourself on the crampons. Ouch. Fun fact and testament to my clothing was that I managed to break my skin and draw blood but didn't actually manage to rip the trousers. Bizarre.

Absolutely hilarious fun though, especially with the company, and I can't see me forgetting it / not jumping at the opportunity to do it / something similar again.

Anywho it's late here despite the fact the sun seems to have forgotten it, yep, midnight sun! So I shall bit you all farewell and do my best to write the rest of the material up in the next few days and I promise a video to follow!

Time for a cuppah I think.

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