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Kathy Sykes' Diary

Day 23: Speed and Melt of Glacier

A FANTASTIC day. Blue skies and glacier. Spent 1½ hours at the sawmill - gathering tools, Mike measuring out a 50 m length of string, making sure we had everything we needed.

Photo: helicopterFantastic helicopter ride up to the glacier. The pilot let me take the joystick for a while. Scary stuff - a tiny, tiny movement sends the whole pod lurching through the air. Quite amazing. Landed on the glacier. Very exciting. Got a brief lesson in glacier-walking, then set off - carrying ridiculous amounts of gear. Really quite funny - us all stomping about on ice - carrying GIANT protractors, poles with red flags and huge chunks of wood. Just mad.

Photo: walking up glacier Had to hack up and down huge ice cliffs. Chris Morris - the guide - would hack out steps in the ice, which we then had to step on very carefully - or risk sliding down a crevasse.

It's just astonishing on the glacier - the scale of it is hard to comprehend just from the helicopter, or from viewpoints on the ‘land'. The change in ‘scenery' is incredible too - some smooth, flat bits, some steep blue corridors to walk through. Had to walk and climb for ages to get to a place that looked appropriate. Didn't get to the edge of the glacier for HOURS. Really wanted to be close to see to the middle from the edge to get the maximum movement. But no way. The middle is miles away. And hidden by layer upon layer of drifts of ice. Finally decided on a place to do it - and I won the toss of a coin to go place the flag in this. Jonathan and I were both desperate to go … it meant more climbing and more views - and we were both very excited to be on the ice. Mike L gets vertigo. Kate too a bit - they both did so well … inching along narrow ridges in steep slopes either side.

I had a great time climbing to the top of a pinnacle in this. Amazing rows of high craggy pinnacles off towards the sea.

Photo: Kathy places flag on the glacier topI left M and J down at the baseline to take the measurements. Chris and I placed the flag - then ran back to the place we'd started at this morning. Since it was just the two of us - we could go really fast - and explore more ice. It was just the best! Picked up the others from the baseline - but they'd only had the chance to make one measurement to the flag. The plan had been to measure some of the amazing pinnacles too - as extra ways of checking the movement. But they didn't have time.

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Photo: Kathy Sykes
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