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Ice Climbing Adventures on Melting Glaciers
Close up views of the melting Bridge Glacier
Bridge Glacier Fly in Trip
The glaciers are melting
GLACIERS are MELTING QUICKLY
World wide many large glaciersand ice-fields are melting. Areas where I climbed up thick ice glaciers 20 years ago are now lakes and even dry moraines with flowers. In July 2008 we flew to Bridge Lake at the toe of Bridge Glacier.
We chartered a float plane and flew from Hyak Resort Lake. This lovely wilderness resort is near the little town of Goldbridge in South Western British Columbia.
CANOEING THE FRIGID WATER
The pilot had left a canoe by the float plane landing. So after we set up camp and explored the area by hiking the rock ridges and crampon hikes on the the glacier,we were also able to paddle the icy glacial lake amid towering icebergs.
It was scary paddling at first because I knew if we capsized we could not survive long in the icy water. We were aware that an icebeg can tip on top of us, or that a large chunk of ice can break off the main ice sheet sending out large waves which send the icebergs flying.
Also sometimes paddling among the towering icebergs we would get disoriented and not know our way out. This was confusing and dangerous because the ice was constantly moving. A few times we got stuck on under water ice protrusions and had to gingerly clamber out of the canoe to drag it off the ice into deeper blue water.
The ice that makes up the glaciers is very old-hundreds of years old. It is also very compacted from the weight of many layers of ice, that have lain on top for centuries before the global warming melted it away.There is rock flour and dust particles in this thick dense ice so when the white surface ice cracks the ice underneath is blue. The lakes in the melting glacier are also blue. As the ice melts and cracks and is exposed to the warm air it turns light blue and then white.
MELTING BEFORE MY EYES
As the glacier melts black mud and rock collects at the toe of the glacier so when you first step up onto the glacier you are walking in a strange black area of hills and crevasses all covered by rock and gravel. And underneath is the ice. There are deep crevasses which must be avoided in this black gravelly area at the toe of the glacier.It is important not to slip into a crevasse. When we were on the smoother ice we needed crampons, metal spikes strapped on our boots to allow safe walking and scrambling on the ice.
CAMPING AT THE TOE OF THE GLACIER
There were not many sheltered spots to pitch our tents and set up a tarp for a cooking shelter. We found some relatively flat places and cleared away rocks so the floor of the tent was smooth. The wind was a constant so we used a lot of rocks to weigh down our tent lines.
A free standing tent would just take off like a kite in this place. I have seen this happen. Once on a previous treck in Baffin Island the wind was very strong. We were in Auyuittuq National Park in Canad's High Arctic North of the Arctic Circle in August. I was huddled in a storm with some hikers and climbers. A young man said to his companion
"Thanks for packing up the gear and the tent."
"I never packed up the tent" said his partner.
"Well its not there."
They ran out into the storm and were just in time to rescue their tent which had blown away and was sinking into an Arctic glacial lake.
This trip in B.C. we spent a week in the cold beautiful Bridge Glacier area and walked every day on the Glacier which was melting away before my eyes.