Walking on a Glacier


I tried to envisage eight Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. I couldnít. Yet this is how high I was, 3,228 metres above sea level on Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps.

My friend Ian and I were going to see and walk on a glacier. After spending so long reading and learning about them at school and university, it was as though those text books were finally going to come to life.

The cloud had covered the top of the mountain. Visibility was poor but we could still make out similar sized mountain peaks in the distance, clad in snow, floating like islands in a sea of cloud.

A track marked with bright coloured posts marked out a route we could take to walk along the glacier. Snow surrounded us, but it did not feel too cold.

The whiteness of the snow and cloud felt almost claustrophobic, the noise of voices of the other tourists became fainter and fainter until we could hear nothing.

Despite the denseness of the cloud, we were still reminded of the sunís presence by the brightness omitted as its blinding rays penetrated the cloud and reflected off the snow. The claustrophobic feeling intensified due to the thinner air and as I walked along the glacier I found myself feeling increasingly light headed.

The whole feeling was very surreal. Despite the claustrophobia and our inability to see more than a few metres in front of us, we still had a strange compulsion to keep walking for as far as we could. It did not really feel like we were walking on a glacier, perhaps its sheer size couple with our limited vision was the main reason for this. None the less it still was an almost unexplainable, incredible feeling to be at such a height, in such a location, although I was light headed from the lack of oxygen, the sheer adrenalin intensified this even further.

However, we eventually decided it may be wise to turn back. As we walked back, we could see the logic behind the bright coloured posts, particularly in the absence of a compass or other reference point.

The cloud began to clear slightly and even though whiteness still surrounded us, the blue colours of the sky became visible. It was as though the intensity of the sun could melt the clouds as well as the snow.

Although I was partly relieved to feel less claustrophobic, I felt an amazing sense of achievement and felt privileged to have visited such a location. Most importantly, I was already plotting my next glacier adventure and next time, I planned to venture much further.

P Kemp

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