14th – Fox Glaciering

Oh yeah today was the day of our helihike up to Fox Glacier! Just sounds cool doesn’t it? Well it was haha, let me tell you.

We left our campsite by 10am as the rules state, simply parked on the street outside, and wandered about. We had a very nice coffee/chai latte and relaxed for the morning. Javi had a little morning siesta in Joe while I went for a walk and took some pictures. The weather was beautiful – blue sky and sunny and hot – so we were hopeful for our tour to go out at 1.45. The helicopters were constantly coming and going so…

We were at the office for the tour by 1.30 and told to come back in 15 but the pilots were currently happy, even though in the last 15 minutes bloody cloud had come down right low over the mountain tops so grr that was annoying. 10 minutes later we were checked in and told we were all go,  woohoo! We were picked up by a couple of funny lads and kitted out with long rubber waterproof jackets and pit on a bus. 5 minutes later we were putting on waterproof big old boots and socks and being weighed into groups – Javi and me volunteered to be separated due to numbers as we were going in 4 helicopters up to the glacier. Javi was in the first and me in the last so I watched him go off in his fancy red and white one and then waited with my group for my ride. I’d been lucky enough to be chosen to sit in the front woohoo so I jumped in my one quick and off we went. The ride in itself was fun although only about 7 minutes and then we were already landing on the glacier. Was so weird to go from a hot green town to a cool ice landscape between rocky mountains. We got off and knelt down to let him fly away and then we were off in 2 groups.

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Our guide was called Melissa from Kansas and she was fantastic. Great sense of humour and a really great guide. She showed us all how to put on our cramp ons (which made you feel a bit invincible on the ice I must say) and some of us grabbed a pole and followed her in single file over the ice. We headed towards a waterfall and enjoyed lots of crevices and drops and little caves and beautiful blue pools along the way. She told us this part of the glacier only moved about 50cm a day but up above moved a lot more – really interesting and off to think the 300m of ice underneath your feet is moving all the time! We took pictures of each other in the group and Javi slid through, belly first, a little blue cave they’d put a rope in to pull yourself through – it was only about 6ft long but I didn’t fancy it seeing as I was I shorts.  Oh funny story – Javi was also in shorts as the office girl had said it was fine and they had waterproof trousers anyway so no problem. When we arrived on the ice and we were doing our cramp ons me and Javi finished at the same time and checked each others but Melissa noticed Javi had put his on his boots the wrong way round so he knelt down to change them over. After switching them and doing the whole wrap and tighten thing with the straps he stood up and she began her safety briefing. Halfway through he looked down to see a load of bright red blood on the ice… and discovered his knees were severely bleeding! It was funny coz he couldn’t feel it but he’d left his knees on the ice haha!!

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Anyway we spent a good 2.5 hours on the ice wandering around up and down and in and out of crevices and leaning over scary deep holes with and without water. The weather also cheered right up for us and although the cloud did come pretty scarily low at one point it suddenly receded and the sun came out and the ice looked very different all sparkly and crisp white. It was really fascinating how over ever hill you go over everything looks like a different place – we really had a jolly  good time. There was a retired British couple in our group who’d been on a glacier walk before so they were interesting to talk to too. In the end a few of us stripped off a layer of clothing as the sun is so piercing when it’s on you, and all the reflecting from the ice – hope my exposed legs are soaking up that vitamin D! We made sure we kept close enough to Melissa so we could ask her a ton of questions and she answered with really informative answers so that was cool. I think a few of the group didn’t understand English so they were just getting a pretty walk today. (I say I don’t think get were too hot with the language because they were the ones getting too close to edges/holes etc).

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Finally we got back into our helicopter groups and the 5 minute ride back to base was over before we knew it. We were all exhausted from walking over and across the ice and after saying big thank yous and byes to everyone we went our separate ways – we decided to drive about half hour up the road to a nice looking campsite with good reviews called Otto, and there we settled in for the night. I think we had the bed made by about 8.30! There were a million a lnd one mosquitos and sandflies everywhere so Javi went on a clapping killing spree (he’s freakishly good at it, gets em everytime!) We were asleep before we even hit the pillow.

Ps. We had a good 20 minutes of crying laughter at our pictures of Javis knees and also me looking like a blind naked lady on the ice! So funny!!  Here’s the best one for your enjoyment.

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