Ice Climbing the Tasman Glacier

Wow where to begin? 

We started off our morning by heading to the local airport just down the road for our helicopter ride to Tasman Glacier! It was both our first times on a helicopter so we were pretty excited! 

There ended up being one other person signed up for ice climbing- Edmund from Texas. Then we met our instructor- Tom, who got us all our gear we needed for the glacier.

Once we had everything we needed we were off to the glacier!

Our helicopter dropped us off at a flat part on the glacier, which gave us some amazing views of all the other glaciers/mountains around us!

Once the helicopter flew away, we started putting on our gear. Basically we had these big boots that were just like ski boots (plastic on the outside, can’t move your foot, hard to walk in), then we attached ice climbing crampons to the boots. 

From there, we followed Tom to our practice ice climbing area where we got to learn the skills and complete our first climb!

To ice climb you kick your foot to the wall so the front spikes in your crampons dig in. You need your foot to be perpendicular to the wall otherwise it won’t hold. Then you also have the ice picks, which you have to swing a certain way to get them to stick in the ice. Then you just make your way up the wall! I thought it was much easier than rock climbing mostly because you can decide your own path, there aren’t specific holds you have to grab.

Once Tom decided we were decent enough, we walked to a different area of the glacier that formed a cave, which was so cool!

Apparently this is like the third biggest cave Tom has ever seen and it will all be melted away within the month!

Then Tom took us over to this canyon that had formed in the glacier from a stream cutting through the ice. He decided that would be a pretty cool place to do some ice climbing! We did about 3 different climbs there- Tom would lower us into the canyon and then we could climb out!

I really enjoyed it!

Since we were all doing pretty well, Tom decided to take us back to the ice cave for a more challenging climb! And it was pretty difficult! The ice was much more solid so you really had to kick to get any sort of grip at all. There were a few overhangs that you basically had to drag yourself up using your ice picks. Pretty exhausting! 

Down in the cave!

Alexis decided not to try it since she didn’t want Tom to have to drag her back up if she couldn’t do it.

Edmund and I did one other climb in the cave. We dropped in through a hole in the top and climbed back out. I was pretty tired from the last climb so I let Edmund go first and while he was going Tom was telling me how hard this one would be and he would be surprised if we both made it. Super uplifting lol.

After some struggles, Edmund made it to the top! That gave me a little confidence so I geared up and went down. About half the climb was super slick ice, then you got to the sunny section which had melted a bit so was pretty easy to do. But of course you get to start with the hard part. I was doing pretty well for about 3 steps lol. Then I got to the part that was slightly angled away and fell apart! It basically required all upper body strength, which I was very short on after the last climb. Edmund and Alexis were at the top and kept cheering for me every time I fell lol. A few times I would lose all grips and fall, but my ice pick stuck in the wall so I was hanging by the wrist strap and waiting for an ice pick to fall off the wall and onto my face. Good times! Anyways, I kind of cheated because I totally used the belay to get me up the hard part of the wall. I knew if I could hold myself up for about 3seconds, Tom would tighten the rope and I could rest again. I was able to make it to the sunny section of the wall after what felt like forever! Then climbed out to the top and fell over in tiredness! 

Random side note- since we were on a glacier all the running water is super clean glacier water that you can drink.

After a little rest by me, we moved back to the ice canyon area and set up a cool climb up next to a little waterfall. While it was a lot easier than the last two, I was super burnt out so it ended up being a lot harder than I thought it would be!

Around 4pm, we headed back over to the helicopter landing area and got picked up! Not before taking a group selfie of course.

Once we landed and got all of our gear off, we exchanged contact info and talked about meeting up at the pub for dinner.

Alexis and I went and relaxed for a bit before heading over to the pub. Both Edmund and Tom ended up meeting us there! We had a fun night hanging out with them.

Before bed, we ended up laying in some grass and stargazing before clouds rolled in. Such a beautiful other world up in the sky that you never get to see in Chicago!

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