Day 2–Scaling the glacier

May 15, 2010 9:27pm

Scaling a glacier with 240 pounds in tow, on soft snow feels like a hard labor sentence! But I doubt even prisoners work this hard. The crusty snow periodically breaks underfoot sinking one or two feet. Occasionally, this reveals a river below the ice which is perfect if you like wet feet! We slowly and fastidiously make our way up to the ice sheet, maneuvering carefully inside the crevasse field. Crevasses occur when an ice mass (typically a glacier or ice sheet) collapses as it pours downward. The gravitational pull literally creates cracks in the ice. Mostly, these run from a few feet to thirty or fifty feet. A large crevasse can reach depths of a few hundred feet. Additionally, snow fall or drift can create bridges which will hide the open space below. A good bridge will freeze over and give solid footing. A bad bridge will collapse when crossed. More often, your leg might sink to the hip and give a fright. Needless to say, falling in a crevasse and dragging heavy cargo after you is no one’s idea of a good time! It will kill you.

Luckily, bridges are generally visible for the different features or coloration they display. This provides early warning.
Today, the sky is clear and the sun’s powerful reflection on the glacier is blinding. In spite of the 40F degrees, it takes no time to get toasty while walking up a twenty degree slope in this type of soft snow. It’s a grind!

After six hours, we decide to set up camp. We will soon revert to a night schedule, as the winds then are generally good for kiting. Inside the tent, the sun is baking. It’s feels much like a greenhouse… But a hot soup with a piece of cheese is an easy lay-up for a nap. We will hit the trail again in four hours and travel until AM, beginning the shift in our rhythm. The coastal features are slowly fading in the distance. Soon there will be nothing but sky and ice–and this for about forty days!

But for now, our elevation yields a the commanding view of the surroundings and the vistas are majestic. The iceberg we were maneuvering around yesterday are but white specs on the horizon. This was a grind. But with any luck, we might feel the pull of the kites by tomorrow. And the race will be on!

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