Everyone assembles in the hut behind my tent for 09:15 and are given a waterproof day bag (Black Diamond) containing a cup, harness and crampons. Cool! The food and rest from last night seem to have worked, I practically walked out of my tent without limping! There's a boat which does a mini tourist cruise twice a day, departing from much further down the lake. We use this to hitch a lift over to the Grey Glacier in the morning and back to land again in the evening. The firm has a rib which they use to ferry us Ice Hikers on and off the Grey II vessel. Boarding it I felt like a pirate. Rape, pillage, rampage! Or just sit there and admire the pretty floating ice-burgs!
We land on a rock and are given our ice-axes... cool! A bit further and we don our harness and crampons... cooler! With 12 huge spikes protruding out from my feet (especially the 2 that stick straight out the front) I feel all set for a game of football! Once we're suited and booted we're led out onto the ice for a few Mickey Mouse lessons on safety walking for any would be American tourists. There's no self arresting on the glacier because if you don't stop within 2 seconds, it's too late. Instead they assume you're going to slide all the way to the bottom of a crevasse and it's a rescue mission from there on in. Hence we all wear a harness.
Far from the flat ice-rink I was expecting the glacier is full of hills, bumps and deep crevasses. The surface isn't smooth but pitted, uneven and crunchy like a meringue. The Grey Glacier as a whole is literally a river suspended in time and the part we were on was less jagged and more undulating. Apparently the reason being, we were behind a large rocky island and walking on the still, calm, eddie that forms downstream of it - just like what you get on a river! We were taken to some different formations like deep crevasses and waterfalls before we saw and went inside some ice caves and tunnels! It was awesome! There are rivers and streams constantly flowing in and through the glacier. And the blue hues and colours are mind boggling. Apparently the glacier looks blue because that's the only colour that has enough energy to escape the ice (blue being the highest visible frequency).
Then it was time for the Coup de Grace. We were led to the bottom of a 3 story crevasse whilst the guys got busy chiseling and anchoring belays on the top. Time for a vertical ice climb up the glacier! What a treat! Ice-axes were the weapon of choice. Minimal instruction - just get up there and give it go. Brilliant! T-Bone, get jealous!
I blagged dinner at the Refugio again and ate with the lesbians. Only one of them, I swear, kept rubbing my leg with her foot! Unfortunately for her, she was tired from the days activity and had to retire to bed early. I wandered back to my tent a bottle of wine later, unzipped the front and... Crack... Donk! One of the poles snapped in half, crumpling the front of the tent. Great! At least it wasn't windy and the elastic held the two halves together. Pleased it was to be my last night camping I left it as it was, crawled inside and passed out cold as usual.
Posted by Steve Eynon