The 2nd night we spent on the glacier there was an amazing full moon. Despite fading battery power from a cold day on the ice I thought I’d venture back outside to capture this moment. One minor problem, on my mission to cut weight at every opportunity, I’d left the 10g remote release for my camera, back at base. Hmmm. There was plenty of light but it was still going to need a longer exposure. Luckily the 2% of battery power on my phone held out long enough to remote control the camera and shoot this 10 second image. Technology is great isn’t it!
Earlier in the day we ventured out and onto the Tasman glacier. Our destination, an area they call ‘Canyonlands’. Getting out and onto the glacier we were greeted with an icy ski down from the ‘Kelvinator’. This was quite a start to the day. No warm up, straight into what feels like a steep black run. It was quite a wake up call. Then it was quick transition, applying our skins to the bottom of our skis, losing a layer, taking a quick drink, before we slowly made our way ever upwards. This bit is what they call ‘earning your turns’. The trick is to not look up too often and wonder why the top doesn’t appear to be getting any nearer, but to look at your skis and focus on the rhythm of sliding one ski up after the other, with the minimum of effort. After a few thousand steps you get the hang of it!
Having made it to the start of the ‘Canyonlands’, our guide Andy went ahead to scope out the safest route through this vast jungle of ice. Let’s just say, that you don’t want to mess up and get lost in there. Skiing through it was exhilarating, (and slightly scary), with a maze of crevasses buried beneath us. At this time of year most are filled with snow and allow for relatively safe exploration of this amazing landscape.
After practicing crevasse rescue techniques and a brief stop for lunch we started the long skin back up to the Kelvinator. We all knew this was going to take a while and with the NW winds picking up everyone was happy to get moving again. But…after 30minutes or so we had our second binding failure of the trip. One of Andy’s Kingpin bindings had already failed the day before, now it was time for Dale’s to break and cause and impromptu ‘glacier mechanic’ session involving hand drilling and straps of all shapes and sizes. It was a good job Andy had an impressive array of screws, bolts and other parts, he’d clearly been here before. Later that evening we would chat more about having a repair kit on any ski touring expedition. The rigged up binding on Dale’s ski lasted until about 0.5km from the hut at which point he had to A frame the skis on his pack and tie in to Chris, for the steep last climb to the hut. A clear lesson that things can and do break in this icy environment!
So, with the sun dropping and everyone safely back in the hut all that was left to do was collect snow, make dinner and wait for the full moon to appear. Glacier life.