Ice Climbing on Exit Glacier
We started out getting kitted with mountain boots, crampons, helmet and a climbing harness. We attached all of these to our packs and then jumped in there shuttle to get to the visitor centre at Exit Glacier. This is a 4 mile or so long glacier that flows off the Harding Icefield.
First of all we had to hike up about 350m or so to a meadow above the glacier and about a mile along the length, then we descended to the edge of the glacier. We changed our trail shoes for the mountain shoes, put on the crampons and climbing harness and we were ready to go.
After a quick lesson in how to walk on ice, using the toe picks of the crampons to go up steep slopes, we set off across the glacier. The first stop was a wall where we each had a go at climbing up using 2 ice axes to steady ourselves and the crampons and legs to move up the wall. This was pretty easy and the guides judged us ready to go.
We then moved down the glacier to an area with some crevasses and a mulan. First up for Sarah and I was an abseil into the crevasse and then a climb out. The bottom was deep down – about 50m and you could see water filling the bottom. The ice on the wall was fairly soft and easy to get the ice axes in. At the bottom before climbing out the view was beautiful. We both managed to climb out fairly easily although getting back over the lip presented some problems.
Then we moved over to the Mulan which is a deep hole in the ice caused with running water. There were two waterfalls flowing in about half way down. The bottom was a tight little cauldron and very cool with an ice cave off to one side with ice which was the deepest coolest blue.
This was much harder to climb out of with very dense ice – rated a 5- out of 7 on the ice climbing difficulty scale. It was a real workout to get out but both of us managed.
After these two climbs we were both knackered and glad that it was time to head back. We moved over some rough terrain on the glacier back to our entry point and then hiked back out.
It was a fantastic experience and our two guides, Trevor and Nathan, were both excellent with a real passion for ice climbing.