Climbing the Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Travel Blog› entry 71 of 206 › view all entries
We got up early and walked to the Glacier tour group to get kitted out with raincoat, waterproof overtrousers, hats, gloves, socks, boots and crampons. We then took a bus to the base of the glacier and walked beyond the protective wire and walked half an hour to the base of the glacier. Here we split into 2 groups based on ability, put on crampons and started tramping up the dirty, rocky edge of the glacier. The further we got up, the more men were out cutting steps into the slopes of the glacier. Paths are cut and re-cut every day following the day and night's weather, and new main paths are changed once a fortnight or so.
After only half an hour I already had blisters at the back of my heel from climbing and stepping up steep slopes, and had to stop for some first aid - apparently you shouldn't wear cotton socks under wool socks! Unfortunately, the damage was already done and the following 2 hours of climbing became more and more painful.
Eventually we stopped for lunch and the tour guide was radioed by the less able group because one woman had had a panic attack and wanted to pull out so the whole group had to return. He left us to eat but when he returned he and my group were scathing about the stupidity of someone who aggreed to go on a glacier walk and then ruined the experience for everyone. I shut up and kept my head down, pleased I hadn&t said anything earlier! LIke I have said before 'Australasians are outdoorsy people'!
The second half of the day was a lot more fun, if a lot wetter as we were squeezing and sliding through tiny glacier cracks and climbing and more often descending steep slopes using the 'bananarama' steps (sideways steps up the cut ice steps) which was a lot more comfortable.
Our first stop was at the hostel bar for happy hour and then to the spa pool in the garden, which was deliciously hot and relaxing. We met a bloke who had also hiked the Tongariro volcano but he did the circular trek round the base and camped for 4 days but got caught in a 4 hour ice storm and got frostbite! After an hour or so we dressed and went down to a local bar for a bit and then to bed after some pizza and some drinks.