Have you ever been somewhere so unique that you feel like you are on a different planet? When I was lowered over 100 feet into a bottomless crevasse at Fox Glacier, I felt like I was discovering Superman’s Fortress of Solitude (for those who aren’t Superman fans, it’s Superman’s North Pole retreat). It was a weird feeling to be all alone surrounded by two never-ending walls of Kool-Aid blue ice.
Before I began my long climb out of the crevasse, I spent a few minutes enjoying the amazing beauty of the glacier. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Although dangling by a rope in the middle of a crevasse had a surprisingly eerie feeling to it, I couldn’t help but enjoy the silence and thoughts of Superman.
The climb out of the crevasse was made difficult by a long sloping ledge on the wall. We had practiced climbing up vertical walls beforehand, but we hadn’t climbed any walls that had a slope. As I went somewhat horizontal on the slope, I began having difficulty keeping weight on my crampons. A couple of times one of my crampons would slip, but I was able to recover and make it to the top of the ledge without falling.
By the time I made it up and over the ledge, I was tired (ice climbing isn’t as easy as it looks). Fortunately for me, the next thirty-five feet was an easy vertical climb. Once I made it to the top, a feeling of accomplishment rushed through my body. What added to this feeling was the loud cheering of the instructor and the other group members. I felt like I had just finished a marathon…a marathon on ice that is.
Just as a side note, ice climbing is apparently not like Vertical Limit and other ice climbing movies. Our instructor told us not to leap towards a wall and try to stick our ice axes and crampons into the ice. She said it wouldn’t work, and if it did, you would end up dislocating your shoulders. I don’t know why, but she looked right at me when she was giving us the lecture of what not to do. Since I knew Hollywood tells no lie, I disregarded her “safety” message. I ran and jumped towards a wall and stuck my crampons and ice axes into the ice. Once I landed on the wall, the ice immediately broke, and I slid down the side of the wall. Luckily the soft ice of the glacier broke my fall. Everyone just shook their heads as I laid at the bottom of the wall.
Hiking Franz Josef Glacier and ice climbing Fox Glacier were two events I will never forget. Everyone needs to be lowered down into a deep and lonely crevasse once in their life. It is unlike anything you have ever experienced!
Where’s the most unique place you have been?