8 March 2011
From Franz Josef via HeliHike
at the Franz Josef Glacier
to Fox Glacier
8 March 2011
From Franz Josef via HeliHike
at the Franz Josef Glacier to Fox Glacier
Karin's travellog (with some adjustments)
At exactly 07.10 hours local time, our alarm clock went off... normally I would not be very happy at that time but today there is again something great on our program. We're going up the Franz Josef Glacier!
We are well on time so we have time to enjoy the sun rises and slowly shines more and more over the glacier. After showering and our usual morning coffee we went to Franz Josef village and to the office where we have to report. It is packed with people who are going to do something towards the glacier today. Most are young and go for a half day or full day hiking to the foot of the glacier and there on the glacier. This is the cheapest form so convenient for most of the youngsters.
We deal with the Helicopter and this so called Heli Hike is pretty expensive, but Jaap know it's worth it. When it's finally our turn, we must fill out a form with all kinds of medical questions. In everything we fill in "NO" except to the question about high blood pressure (Jaap has high blood pressure). After submitting the form the guide asks Jaap how it is with his blood pressure and what medication he is using. Jaap doesn't have the medication, it's in the campervan. The guide decides that they want to see the medication since it's not on their list. They won't take any risks. So Jaap back to the campervan and after a while returning with his medication. The rest of the group was already to the dressing room, where they handed me rain pants. That was the only pants I was not wearing at that moment because I already had a slip, leggings and a jogging pants on ..... OK, I give up, now wearing 4 things ....
Then we get shoes, a hat and gloves and a bag with our crampons for under the shoes. Jaap arrived back from the campervan with his medication. The medication is not on the list of the organisation. So the list the use is very old or Jaap is getting a placebo. The list is old or Jaap is receiving a placebo. Anyway they rest their case, after Jaap also has indicated he has no problems at all, so the adventure can begin. We walk about 200 meters to the Heli-landing. The helicopter is waiting for us and after some final instructions about mounting and dismounting we climb with the guide and 3 others in the Heli. The rest of the group follows in a second helicopter flight. The flight is fantastic although I find it very scary when the pilot, in my opinion, flies too far up the mountain, I know that these people know what they do but ..... !
The view from a helicopter on a glacier is breathtaking and after a big turn at the top of the glacier the helicopter is going down in a number of trips to the ice.
The helicopter has landed and we climb out.In the time we wait for the other group we enjoy the first impressions on the glacier. It's wonderful that you are standing on the Alps in a country where the sun shines so much. (Note: The Franz Josef Glacier is located in a sub-tropical rainforest and the sea is at a latitude where Cannes is in Europe; In Europe, the glacier would have been completely melted away centuries ago)
The water that is coming down in small streams has such a bright color and is so pure that Jaap immediately fills his first bottle of delicious cold and clear glacier water before we leave the landing place. With our crampons under the shoes we are reasanble stable on the ice altough it takes time to get used to walk with them, especially using them against the ice walls of the glacier.
Our guide was young and enthusiastic, gives a lot of information and always makes sure that the route we follow is safe. Often he cut steps into the ice with his pickaxe. The glacier changes every week he says due to the constant motion of the glacier. Since a week or 2 there is even a waterfall to be seen, probably active since a long time under the ice. The group may particippate in the decision where to go, so we choose to go towards the waterfall. Along the way we encounter several ice caves; In two words beautiful and breathtaking. Great to experience all this but so exhausting! Approximately 2 hours we are going up and down and that was a great experience. After about 2 hours we were back at the spot where the helicopter dropped us. The returnflight was good except the moment that the pilot flew right off a cliff and at the last moment over it flew.This is a standard thrill so it took my 1 time swallowing and then it's over.
After landing at the heliport but we freed ourselves first of all clothing and then we took a delicious cappuccino on a terrace. We found that our bodies should be treated and therefore we went to the Hot Pools. Wow that was great. They had 3 Hot Pools; the first one was 36 degrees, the second one 38 degrees and the third one was 40 degrees. The 40 degrees pool was wonderfull but after a while we got the idea our bodies starting to cook so we went backk to the 38 degrees pool. Ended all with a shower and then back in our campervan for a short drive of only 21 kilometers. But those 21 kilometers took us about one hour due to passing a mountain range with climbing, decending and hairpins. The advised speed was constnatly between 15-40 kilometers. But after that hour we arrived safely in the small village of Fox Glacier.
We are now enjoying a tasty beer at the Holiday Park in Fox Glacier and have - actually for the first time this trip - prepared our food in the communal kitchen. The dinner was disturbed by a number of Kea's (New Zealand parrots) that played around the Holiday Park and made a lot of entertainment for the guests. Everybody got his camera but the sun was alreay low, so most of the pictures had to little light. Kea's are beautiful birds but as they eat away the rubber around your windows, you always have to chase them when you hear their feet on your roof. After dinner we pack our things together and go to bed early because if the weather allows we will get out of bed tomorrow morning at 06.00 because we want to see the sunrise at Lake Matheson, a few kilometers away from the Holiday Park.
On the photographs:
1. Together in an icecave
2. Karin on the glacier
3. The Franz Josef glacier from the helicopter (watch the black rockformation)
4. Upper right part of the rockformation (search for the helicopter, now you see how big a glacier is)
5. Karin her first steps with the crampons
6. Enough altitude on the glacier
7. Karin in a beautiful pose in an ice cave
8. Following the guide
9. The black rocks here are the thin line of rocks photo 3, another indication how big the glacier is
10. Mosaic: Karin in Heli, cracks on the glacier, Heli heading for the mountain (Thrill) and the town of Franz Josef from air..