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Kathy Sykes' Diary

Day 24: Speed and Melt of Glacier

Photo: New Zealand landscapeOvernight in the mountain hut was wonderful. Really special. No heating. Grubby cutlery. Damp-ish beds, some covered in plastic that creaked like a giant crisp packet. But - hut full of happy people, cups of tea and fantastic food. We munched our way through fab salami, watercress pesto, beef casserole and chocolate.

All sleepy by 9 … but … to get to the ‘dunny” (toilet) you need to walk 20 m across snow. We're not allowed to use it without Chris accompanying us … it's too risky. There are gentle slopes everywhere that dip into steep death-bringing slopes. So - a toilet trip in the night involves putting on spiked boots, taking ice axe, waking up Chris, putting on clothes, walking 20 m, sitting on smelly box … then returning (not necessarily in that order!). Quite an incentive NOT to go to loo in night! Mike L - the man with vertigo - went off to loo without Chris. His torch was too weak to pick out the loo - and he walked wrong way. He stopped walking when he noticed a slope downhill (which probably means he was close to a v. Dangerous point - if he could feel it). Just proved how dangerous a place it is!

Photo: hutFantastic morning - making ice lenses and soaking up views and scrambled eggs. At 12ish a helicopter came to take us to resume our flag positions. Still exciting to be by the glacier, even on Day 2. You occasionally hear it creaking and hear and even see rocks falling down from one path of terrain to another. Or hear a distant (one hopes!) avalanche. You just feel the glacier's power. It looks so still, but you can sense that it's grinding its way down the mountain. We took our measurements - and found the flag had moved around a metre (1.3 according to the trigometry). It's insane to try to measure movement in one day - we need to do this for months or years even. And using one reading is insane too. It's so unscientific. But we had no more time to make any more readings.

Chris let me come along to take the flag out even though my boots were just walking boots. So much fun on the ice! The others were there by the time we got back … Kate had an envelope with the ‘results' in …

Photo: Kathy with handwarmersMovement is 0.5 to 1 m a day. Rats! Given the fact we were working at it only for one day, and that the movement is an average (it speeds up and slows down), we were delighted with how close we were. And Mike B's ‘handwarmers' were GREAT … they got so hot, they melted the plastic wrapping (or exploded it) and singed our fingers. RESULT!!!

What a fantastic 3 days!

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Photo: Kathy Sykes
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