Nigardsbreen Glacier: A Blue Snowcone

Posted: November 2nd, 2012 under Hiking, Travel.
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Nigardsbreen Glacier, Norway

Hiking up Nigardsbreen Glacier was like hiking up a giant blue snowcone.  I was taken by surprise by the intensity of the blue ice.  In fact, I was entirely captivated by the unique beauty of the glacier.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

Never in my life did I imagine that I would have an opportunity to hike on a glacier.  I was born and raised in the South. I had never even seen a glacier.  And my preferred vacation experiences usually take me hiking in the Mediterranean or scuba diving in the Tropics.  Please note: both are warm locations.

My husband, who usually flees cold weather, did something he had never done before.  He signed us up for a guided trip to Norway, organized by REI Adventures.  We spent nine days kayaking and hiking the fjords of Norway with 13 other adventurers whom I grew to adore.  The experience was amazing and the hike up Nigardsbreen Glacier was the climax.

The approach to the glacier is low key.  It merely looks like a blue bank of ice.  The distance minimizes the enormous scale of the glacier, and with an excellent camera lens, you realize that those smaller-than-ant dots are a party of hikers.

Approaching the glacier

Hikers, like ants, ascend the glacier on the right

Before climbing, each hiker is fitted with crampons and given an ice ax.

Crampons, a fashion necessity

On the ice, crampons are essential. But they are rather treacherous when standing on glacier-polished rock.

Waiting to be harnessed for the ascent

Mingma Tsiri Sherpa

Our group was guided by an honest-to-goodness sherpa from Nepal.  This man, Mingma Tsiri Sherpa, has summited Mount Everest 18 times, and he and six brothers hold the Guinness World Record for the most summits of Everest within a family.  For him, I am sure trekking across Nigardsbreen Glacier is effortless, but he was not at all arrogant or cavalier.  Instead he impressed me with his gentleness and humility.  On our descent he stopped another guided group to tighten a woman’s harness.   I think her risk of falling into a crevasse was slim-to-none, but I was impressed that he took steps to ensure her safety.

Crevasse

The sky was overcast, which was a mixed blessing. It prevented us from being blinded by the glare and obscured a blue sky that might have, otherwise, competed with the brilliant blue glacier ice. No, that isn’t a reflection of the sky.  That is ancient snow that has had the air squeezed out of it over much time and great pressure.

Peering back into time

The color was shocking, both in hue and intensity.

The last group photo of my dear hiking companions was taken just a few hours before we said goodbye, parted ways, and returned to normal lives.  I say “normal”, but you never return from an adventure unchanged.

 

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