Ice climbing on a warm day!

“Just this twice,” she says, blushing, as she publishes another article that panders to her tourista genes just as badly as the last one did….

Ben takes off

Ben taking off

Traveling with our son Ben has pushed us to try some adventurous activities rather than the brew pub exploration we enjoyed when our daughter Rebecca was with us in April. We tried our darnedest to fly over Denali, but seemed to be under a weather jinx and the rain and fog kept us grounded. Ben was the only one who came close!

Dave & Ben at the end of their float

Dave & Ben at the end of their float

One day Dave and Ben rafted the whitewater of the Matanuska River while I painted. Another day we all rode ATV’s together near the Knik glacier. That was fun, and we learned how quickly the landscape can change here—a blockage re-routed a creek, and in two short weeks it carved out a new rushing mountain stream and falls that looked like it had been there for years! Another day we hiked Hatcher Pass and the old Independence Mine site, where Ben loved driving the twisty roads and scampering much higher up the slopes than we were willing to go.

Hiking to Matanusa Glacier

Hiking to the Matanusa Glacier

Most amazing, though, was hiking and climbing on the Matanuska Glacier for six hours. I hope you enjoy this digression from my usual art topics as I share a few photos and thoughts from this fantastic experience.

That crack is a long way down there

A deep crevasse!

Almost at the top

Ice climbing—almost to the top

Walking with crampons on my feet brought back memories of the pregnancy waddle. They are sharp enough to rip pants, or even skin if you trip and fall, so it’s important to keep your feet apart when using the tricky suckers. Our experienced leaders, Emily and Sean, were so enthusiastic, sharing their abundant knowledge, and guiding us to safely hike, ice pick our way up, and (gulp) step backwards off the edge to get lowered back down.

Ice waterfall #2

Ice waterfall #2

Ice waterfall #1

Ice waterfall #1

Notice all the divots in the ice? It kinda looked like Paul Bunyan took up golf!

Jokes aside, I now understand that the glacier moves like liquid water. There is so much weight from the ice field above that the solid ice actually flows across the rock. It fractures into huge slabs when it goes over the edge of a cliff, creating what our guides called a frozen waterfall that thrust those beautiful, blue spires high up to the sky. Well, the artist in me would say it’s actually closer to thalo blue with a little cad yellow mixed in. 🙂

It was interesting to find the ground-up rock not only along the edges of the glacier where the ice wears it down, but interwoven throughout. These patterns, and the occasional groans and creaks we heard, show how the ice is always moving and changing, so I almost felt like I was walking around on a living thing.

Rock veins in the ice

Rock veins in the ice

Glacier ice up close and personal

Beautiful glacier ice

I wasn’t brave (nuts…crazy…had too many margaritas…pick the best word) enough to bring my paints, but I sure did imagine painting en plein air on the glacier! Although my knees were a little achy by the time  I finished from all the ups and downs with the crampons, it was fantastic and memorable experience. Next time, I’ll carry my paint box for sure!

If you’d like to see more images from this great day, check out Dave’s great pics.

Dave & Ben on the Matanuska Glacier

Dave & Ben on the Matanuska Glacier

There has been one comment on “Ice climbing on a warm day!

  1. What a beautiful day you had at the Glacier…Your posts are great and makes me feel like I’m on your adventure 🙂

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