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Jonahan Hare's Diary

Day 23: Speed and Melt of Glacier

Spend the first 1-2 hours of today getting all the bits and pieces ready for the helicopter ride to the glacier. The flight was totally amazing very very exciting.

We were put down on the middle of the glacier and our guide Chris was to take us over the ice to the side of the glacier where we could put our gear and make the measurements. It was really wonderful to be on the ice and in the heart of the glacier. We had a great lunch on the ice just before the descent to the ground where we would make our measurements. A real feast on the ice - Chris had done his guiding and food work well.

Kathy, Mike and I set up the equipment and then Kathy and I toss a coin to see who would go up to the ice again and plant the flag. She won the toss and headed off with Chris. Meanwhile Kate, Mike L and I set up the protractors and the baseline so that they were aligned and ready for the readings.

Photo: JonathanIt was quite a long hike for Kathy and it took about 20 mins before they appeared in the distance near to the top of one of the mountains of ice. They drilled a hole for the flag and planted it on top. Meanwhile Kate, Mike L and I made the first day measurements on the flag with the equipment set up. It went very well. I aligned the pointer arm to the flag on both protractors and Mike L read out the angles. Then we drew a scale map using the protractors. This gave us our first estimate for the distance of the flag which came out as 150m distant - a great result!!

Later on Kate told me that she had asked one of the helicopter pilots to fly over the flag to film it but he had told her that they would never be able to find it, as the glacier is so immense. Anyway she told him that the flag was 150m from the right hand side of the valley walls using our trginometrical result. Apparently the pilot found it easily testifying to the success of the measurements!

Once this was done for the camera I was assuming that we were going to be able to do the measurements very carefully so that I could get reliable figures but NO! We didn't have any time left before the helicopter was arriving to pick us up for the night! So we spend a good deal of the day crossing ice and being filmed only to have a few seconds to actually make the real measurements - that's Rough Science for you!!

The copters arrive and we are whisked off near to the top of the mountain where we are to stay for the night in a mountain (Alma) hut.

Alma Hut is at about 2000m asl in the permanent snow. It was wonderful views to the sea and of course the glacier below and the often falling ice from the mountainous peaks all around. In the hut were Kathy, Mike L, Chris, myself, John (soundman) and Derek (cameraman) and also Martin (director). We had a great time. There were two rooms in the hut; Kathy, Derek and I had the extension room (for the non snorers!) while the rest slept in the main room. When the lights were out it was pitch dark and not a sound apart from the snoring!

Before we retired we went outside. Moonless night but the stars of the Milky Way were so bright you could see by them. It was bitter cold. Kathy and Mike L wanted to make up some ice lenses so they both tried different techniques. Mike put some water into bowls and left them on the snow to freeze while Kathy filled a balloon (to make up the lens shape) and left it to hang in the air.

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Photo: Jonathan Hare
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