Book Trailer for Pilikia

Monday, August 13, 2012

Highlights from Alaska

The Alaska cruise was more than a month ago and it's time I posted some pictures. The highlight of the cruise, for me, was the trek on the Mendenhal Glacier. We got fitted with jackets, pants, gaiters, boots, gloves and harness and then helicoptered to the glacier.

Once we arrived on the glacier, we were fitted with crampons and helmets and given ice axes. That ridge of ice is where we were headed. The tent in the foreground is where the guides keep their equipment.

We spent some time learning just learning how to walk on a glacier. The terrain is incredibly rugged. There were some level spots, but most of the time we hiked up and down hills, past ice caves and over crevasses. You use different techniques for going uphill and downhill and for walking across a face.

The highlight of the trek came when we reached an ice wall and climbed it. The guides went ahead and fixed ropes. I don't know how tall this wall was. It was nearly vertical and much taller than the climbing wall at the Rec. My guess is that it was about six stories tall. It had been raining, so the wall was smooth ice. Unlike the Rec's climbing wall, there were no hand and foot holds.

You had to slam the axes into the wall and then stab it with the crampons and proceed up the wall that way. Slam, slam, step, step. The pictures show me at the start where it does not look so vertical and then at the top. The guide is on belay. You can see the ropes. Not everyone in the group reached the top. Two did not try.

We had to cut the trek short because bad weather was coming in

Back on the ship, Mary Fran and I discovered the Martini Bar which served martini flights-six small martinis. Here is the bartender pouring two martini flights at once. Twelve martinis. I am going to learn how to do this.