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Ice Climbing Photo Gallery

Written by Cathy Siegismund
February 2003

After our brief introduction to ice climbing, we started climbing. Activities in New Zealand are never watered down, and this was no exception. The wall was probably 60-90 feet high, and was mostly vertical with various ledges and overhangs if vertical wasn't hard enough! The first climb I did in a pretty big hurry and I had a fair death grip on the ice axes.

Fiona's introduction to ice climbing

Now, I'm supposed to climb up what?


Cath getting the hang of climbing

Climbing was surprisingly easy, the really hard part was leaning back against the rope and harness, and trusting the person belaying you back down the wall to the bottom. The next thing I learned was to belay. After my 2 minute introduction to this aspect of climbing from Fiona, John, who was at the end of my rope, looked a bit concerned. I guess he took a belay class at a Seattle climbing club during which he spent several hours over two days learning the skill. John survived my belaying and I even caught Ken in a fall a few climbs later.

Ken, Cath, and John, the intrepid ice climbers

Ken and Cath with our ice axes


John and Cath climbing the ice wall

Photo by John Hawk

Cath reaching the top of the wall

Ken taking a break


Views of the glacier

After 6 - 8 climbs up and down the wall, we climbed up with our packs and walked across the glacier to a millwell. This is a hole in the glacier carved by running water.

Millwell with water flowing from the hole in the ice

These can be extremely deep, up to hundreds of feet or more. The plan was was to be lowered down into the millwell and then climb back out. John, in his Rocky Mountain tour guide days, recalled a film showed to tourists that talked about a moose that fell down a millwell and wasn't found until it was spit out the other end of the glacier hundreds of years later. The drama of the "fate of the moose" story was reinforced, when the first climber down the millwell hit a piece of ice that broke off and fell to the bottom. There was a fair bit of time between the sound of the ice cracking until the dull thud of it hitting the bottom. We also were warned not to lean on a rock, the size of piano, resting on the lip of the millwell, as it might slip into the hole. With these thoughts we all took turns being lowered into the hole and climbing back out.





John being lowered into and climbing out of the millwell

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