What an exciting day! Today after eating a breakfast of hard boiled and lightly fried eggs, toast with homemade plum jam, goat's cheese, salmon and more, we headed to Jostedalsbreen National Park. It was about an hour drive from our hotel to the park, and the route included beautiful rural scenery of hilly farms and landscapes dotted with colorful houses and old red barns, not to mention more waterfalls! Jostedalsbreen is home to the Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest in continental Europe. The glacier in its entirety spans 60 kilometers wide and up to 600 meters thick. Our adventure today revolved around the Nigardsbreen, the largest of the glacier’s arms. Not sure what to expect when we arrived at the park, we took a chance and decided to partake in the 3.5 hour guided tour on the glacier.
Upon our arrival to the tour meeting spot, we were greeted by a pile of ice picks, gloves and crampons, making mom just a little bit nervous. Armed with our equipment, and perhaps even more uncertain about what we were getting ourselves into, we boarded a small boat and crossed Nigardsbrevatnet lake, which separated us from our car and the gigantic blue mound of ice. After getting off the boat and trekking through dirt and rocks, including the crossing of a not so friendly looking suspended bridge over raging rapids which Keely was none too fond of, we were given even more equipment- a harness and rope with which to tie ourselves together. One can only imagine how the seven of us looked tied together in a line!!
Our guide Frank then led us onto the blue ice. Arin was the leader of our pack, valiantly standing behind Frank as he hacked into the ice with his pick to provide us with safe footing. We dug our crampons into the chipped ice and were led precariously up the glaciers to fabulous views, revealing more of the glacier, the rocks and waterfalls above and the lake below. We did a great job of sticking together (never mind the fact that we were strung together) and no one slipped into a massive crevice, even though the tour guide admonished Kevin for his crampon skills.
The glacier is simply beautiful, with layers and layers of ice. Although the top of the glacier is dusted brown from silt, dirt and other organic materials, the less oxygenated caverns and inlets reveal a brilliant blue. Slowly but surely, we made it to the high point of our tour, taking pictures along the way and continually reminding each other what a crazy thing we were doing.
Despite our marvelous adventure, I think more than one of us were relieved that we arrived back to sturdy ground all in one piece. What an amazing experience- how many more times will we get to climb a glacier?! After returning our gear, we headed to Pizzabakeren for a lunch/dinner of delicious pizza and to toast our successful day.