Saturday, July 16, 2011

Returning to Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

  I had such a great experience climbing and studying the Matanuska Glacier last fall that I knew I would have to give it another go. With some planning and good timing I was able to get my husband Andy, out on the ice with me this time. It was Andy's first experience with ice climbing and this day was part of a belated birthday present from me to him. He took right to it and after watching him out there for an afternoon I think he is a natural. The day started out cold and rainy but actually turned out to be a great day for climbing and before we knew it the sun was out and we were shedding layers.
The Matanuska has changed a bit since I was on it last, about 10 months ago. This is also a different time of year and the light was different. I recognized some of the area around the massive crevasse that I had climbed out of in September and it certainly has changed as the glacier is moving and changing constantly. Once again I found inspiration in the giant mass of icey blue and took many pictures to use later for visual reference in my studio.

Between climbs Andy and I pause for a quick pose. It's good to be able to share these places and experiences with a willing partner.

Andy ascends a wall of ice. On belay is one our guides Jamal who spent the afternoon with us.

No hands!

After a successful ascent Andy turns his ice axes into a safe handling position before repelling back down the ice wall. Looking good Birthday Boy!

It's my turn. Actually this is about my fifth or sixth turn that afternoon and I'm starting to feel a little fatigued but not enough to back down. Andy did this same climb right before me and is down below offering advice and words of encouragement..

Raising my ice axe in victory, "I made it!" It's my final climb of the afternoon and I'm tired. It was a great day but I'm ready for it to be over. At this point about all I can think about is a cheeseburger with some warm greasy french fries. I have plans to take Andy to the nearby Long Rifle Lodge for a birthday dinner tonight.

It's been a good day and after dinner we are headed off to the little port town of Whittier for five days of sea kayaking and exploring in Blackstone Bay...stay tuned.