Caren Ware's Blog

August 13, 2010

Walking on thin ice

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 5:39 am

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Thin ice subject.  Weight.  How do I help my son lose it now when I couldn’t while he was home.

My son cringed.  Here was an unknown that would test his fitness, cardio, and vertical ability.  He had been couch potatoing most the year in between classes, some lifting, and his new found physical entertainment- grappling.  He explained grappling as a sort of combination of karate, wrestling, and anything goes street fighting.  Bruised and entertained, he says it is a good challenge for his big body,  helpful for future police work. But unknown cardios make him very uncomfortable.  He wanted to bail on the idea of spending an entire day climbing a glacier with fit guides.  These New Zealand Alps were very jagged, vertical mountains.  Growing up packing the Sierras and the Tetons, he knew the exertion this could take, especially packing some extra pounds.  I didn’t like this option for him at his young age.    Him either.

Things were coming up that had weight limits.  John had to drop a few insignificant, but arduous pounds to be able to sky dive.  He couldn’t ride camels in the outback, but neither could have the majority of the American male population.  We have big boys.  American football players boys.  My boy can bench press 320 lbs plus and do push ups forever.  No apologies here.  But cardio exertion?  No thanks he seems to say.

The only way to explore and climb the glaciers is with a guide unless your credentials could prove you were just as experienced as one. Since there are not many places to rake in glacier skill practice, the guides win out. Wise to be with someone that knows the crevasses and personality of this ice any way.

So a busload of us disembark and hike to the base of the Franz Joseph glacier which appears deceiving close and yet is a 5k walk to the base.  There, the guides roll into  the best way to divide us up. “Who wants to move exceptionally fast up there and lead the way so we can make steps for the others? Step up to group one.  Who wants to take their time? Take pictures and enjoy a slower pace.  Move back to group five.  Everyone else fill in.”  I bounced over to group one.  John smiled.  Waved good-bye and slide happily to group five.

We both had epic days.  It was a thrill to be on ICE.  Thick ice that turns bluer the deeper you get below the surface as it is condensed under the weight of its own rock and snow.  Steep ice, with walls towering higher than buildings.  Crawling through holes that open up to new walls and new crevases.  More like slipping, careening, and getting jammed into tight places.  Yeah.  The thrill of crawling around and exploring that was so much the fun point of childhood.  I snapped more pictures in a day than ever.  Every nook and cranny was so exotically glacier.  The rock, the sky, the views, the swirling personality of the ice. I enjoyed being with a guide that climbed us fast and athletically.  I enjoyed the group of British almost wayward world travelers and the French Canadian snowboarders who took a day off of their vacation of slopes to experience a glacier.  They both had spunk, and the humor rolled around us all day.  Ice axes turned into makeshift electric guitars.  At one point we were all wedged in an ice crack waiting for the guide to put ice screws and ropes in on a steep climb.  Within minutes, these boys were all chipping away with their axes…at nothing other than the sake of chipping away.  I had to comment.  Smile.  They were the same boys that buzz and burm with toy trucks make believing excavation.  One guy shouts out , “Dig deeper, boys. Deeper.”  Another, in a serious tone declared, “I have found…yet more ice.”   So it became  the game of the day.  Every time the climbing stopped the ice axes came out and these young men reveled in their unified play, all nationalities aside.

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