The call of the glacier, large seas of ice cascading up the sides of mountains, along plains throughout the arctic, national parks dedicated to them, mountains seemingly built around them. I love glaciers, I have done ever since I was in secondary school (high school) and I learnt about how these great sheets of ice are constantly moving, shifting, expanding, retreating, crevasses grow in them, abysses’ sometimes reach down further the eyes can see. They’re spectacular, but, for all of my interest in them, I’ve never seen one in real life, let alone walk on one (I’m guessing this is something that I might not do, since as you remember, I’m a fricking climbing whimp – I am a sucker for adventure though so you never know). Anyways! I digress; I had never seen a glacier before until this year when I spent a week in the French Alps with my beautiful family.
We were staying in the amazing town of Samoens, nestled in the valley of the great mountains when we decided one day to drive to Chamonix Mont-Blanc and head up Aiguille Du Midi to Step into the Void (that didn’t exactly go as planned, you can read what happened here – tada!) However, Aiguille Du Midi is situated right slap by Mont-Blanc, in fact, you have to pass the amazing mountain to get to Aiguille Du Midi and with it, you have to pass its infamous glacier, The Bossons Glacier, which cascades down the mountain like a glittering blanket. I was in awe at the size of it, I mean really, the thing’s huge, unfortunately however, not as large as it used to be due to Global Warming. There is however, a geologist who in 2005 stated that the glacier was instead growing and not decreasing, his theory was that due to global warming there were stronger winds in the summer months, therefore pushing “sticky snow” up onto the glacier and compounding it onto the ice, therefore making both the Glacier and the mountain increase in size. This theory however has been questioned and left out to freeze (ha) by other professionals within the geology world, either way; it is a stunning sight to see.
We bypassed the Bossons Glacier and headed directly for the Glacier on Aiguille Du Midi which we explored at high altitude whilst attempting to Step Into the Void, we stood above the clouds as freezing winds whipped around us, snow whizzed and whirled and our bodies stood ridged against the cold. It was absolutely fricking amazing! Despite common belief England doesn’t get true winter, hardly any snow or any prettiness so it was a true treat to experience it at least once this year. Once we had explored Aiguille Du Midi for a few hours we decided that seeing two glaciers just wasn’t enough, myself and the family wanted more and luckily, my uncle Rob knew exactly just where to find it.
We headed down the mountain (in a ski lift, however, if you’d prefer to think that we skied down then that would be more exciting for the blog) to the valley floor where we headed off to a cute train station that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Victorian England. Since our tickets to go up Aiguess Du Midi were ski passes they also gave us entry onto the train, we waited patiently as an old train pulled up, once we clambered on board we were off, a twenty minute journey up the mountain as the train chugged and pulled through the forest and up the mountain.
The views were absolutely spectacular, we could see mountains through the trees as the town disappeared below us; we eventually came to a stop at yet another beautiful station where we were told to depart. Upon leaving the train we were greated with the most beautiful site, a viewing area over the mountains where you could see the pathway of the glacier. Unfortunately, over the years the glacier had retreated and shrunk meaning that we could no longer experience seeing it up close and personal without donning Crampons and exploring on foot, as we were with my 90 year old nan and little poppy it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea (yes, I know, they would have done better than I on the ice). But we were up there to see and chill out, along with the viewing area there was also a cafe, and a hotel with a restaurant, where we sat for a hot drink whilst soaking in the views.
The second part of the day was perfect for those in the group who couldn’t walk far, all of the views but without any of the pain; the entire day was absolutely perfect. After twenty-seven years I had finally managed to see a glacier, three in fact; I’m so glad that I have, you see, most of the glaciers are rereating and disappearing pretty quickly, to see something so large and beautiful before they’re gone forever is a treat that everyone should enjoy. At least maybe if they did they’d understand that there are parts of the world which are awe inspiring, beautiful and much more powerful than you can imagine, they are most definitely worth saving.
Have you been on a glacier or seen one? I’d love to hear from you!