Be careful what you wish for.
Last Monday, 12 hopeful glacier initiates and three instructors shouldered their packs and steeled themselves for 1000 vertical meters up to the stunningly located Flatebrehytta. Some packs were heavier than others. Mine, unfortunately enough for myself, was very heavy.
|Eirik the instructor tells the group about a huge landslide that happened a few years ago at the beginning of the climb.|
The first 300 vertical were the most painful. As we headed further up, we started taking short breaks to pick wild blueberries, and everyone began to chitchat. I started to forget about my overloaded pack. Then we rounded a corner on the top of a ridge, and there it was.
Blue ice spilling over the hillside, like a static, frothy river.
|First glimpse of the glacier.|
We had all come to Flatbrehytta to learn to safely navigate over glaciers. Glaciers are huge masses of shifting ice that move slowly through the landscape, grinding up whatever is in their way. They are also covered in cracks, or crevasses, wherever the ice is forced to bend in its path. Crossing glaciers requires patience, and a rope team to work together to make good, safe decisions.
|Ryan and Anna on the edge of a glacier moraine.|
|Getting ready to go out onto the ice.|
|Out onto the ice. Note that Anna the instructor isn't roped in - she didn't trust us the first day!|
|Heidi hangin' out in the same crevasse as me. Instructor Torgeir looks on.|
|Cramponed feet dangling over the abyss. I couldn't see the bottom of the crevasse. I figure it must have been 20-30 meters deep.|
|My life line, and instructor Eirik looking down at me from the edge.|
Bananas of the world unite!
Peel banana, peel peel banana
The view from the glacier every day was nothing if not spectacular, and sometimes you had to just stop to take in the view.
|Ice and mountains and fjord.|
We learned to set ice screws to protect our way across dangerous crevasses...
|Kenneth sets an ice screw before crossing a crevasse.|
|Solfrid probes a beautifully shaped bridge.|
|Eirik, Kenneth and Solfrid make there way through the fog|
|Sunset over the fjord|
We also had the challenge of having no running water. Water had to be collected in buckets from a stream 5-10 minutes walk from the hut. Dishes also had to be done outdoors. One day brought particularly nasty weather, and two heros spent nearly an hour outside the hut in the pouring rain washing everyone's dishes. When the weather was nicer, dishwashing became more popular - just look at that view!
|Tuva, Solfrid, and Anne Sophie - dishwashing with a view|
The last couple days we were able to tackle more challenge blue ice.
|Kenneth hacks down a block of ice before crossing a gaping crevasse.|
|The other rope team demonstrates safe crevasse crossing.|
On the last day, we set out to cross the whole expanse of blue ice to the upper part of the glacier. About half way up, I glanced around at the fjord and saw rain moving towards us. I pulled my hood up over my helmet and braced myself to get cold and wet.
The rain came, and with it a wall of fog that moved so quickly up from the fjord I literally didn't have time to take a picture of it rolling towards us. The rest of the glacier crossing looked like this:
|Preben followed by instructor Torgeir in the fog. The picture doesn't accurately depict the gale force gusts of wind and driving rain.|
The glacier course at Flatbrehytta was an incredible learning an experience. I definitely feel ready to tackle more glaciers (Monte Rosa, I'll be back!). Our three wonderful instructors taught us well, with laughter, jokes and good advice.
|Eirik, Torgeir, and Anna get ready for a day on the ice.|
|'OK, everyone make a stupid face!'|
- The Wild Bazilchuk
P.S. Here's a parting shot of the fjord. Cause it's beautiful and I love it.