A Glacial Hike to Remember

Greenland Glacier Hike 7087 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

One of the draws of Greenland was knowing I would be going out of my comfort zone a little and facing new challenges in a land completely foreign to me.  Each day in Greenland fulfilled this goal, especially the second day when we went ice trekking up a glacier, something I had never done before.  We took a zodiac from our camp across the water of the fjord to an area that looked safe enough to dock.  We climbed ashore and headed for higher ground.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7307 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After a short picnic lunch, we climbed up the mountain a short distance until we approached the end of the Qaleragdlit glacier.  At the time, we didn’t know that we would be heading up towards the peaks just to the left of the center of this image below.  It was hard to capture the incline that we were facing, as this image does not do it justice.

Greenland Glacier Hike 6932 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Before climbing the glacier above, our attentive guides gave us some instruction on ice trekking.  We donned harnesses and crampons to allow us to trek on the ice and scale the glacier.  We practiced walking at the bottom of the glacier, and even before I stepped one foot with the crampons, I learned a good lesson about them–don’t spend too much time walking on rocks.  Troy had a good laugh at the rock stuck in my crampons and was even kind enough to take this photo and share it with me. 🙂

Greenland Glacier Hike 5153 August 17, 2018

Image: Amy with a large rock stuck in her crampons.  Photo courtesy Troy, iPhone.

We began heading up the glacier in a single file line, trying to follow the instructions of our guides on technique and foot placement as we climbed higher and higher.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7053 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 32 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I brought up the rear since I wanted to be able to take photos of both our group and of the landscape. I stopped often to look behind me and capture the undulating landscape and ice.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7108 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

At times, a stream of water where the ice was melting made its way down the glacier, carving a path in the ice as it flowed towards the sea.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7105 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/22, 1/250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we climbed higher, our guides educated us on various aspects of the glacier.  We saw many cracks and crevasses that broke up the white and grey waves of ice and dotted the landscape in blue pockets.  Hugo, our main guide, assessed the stability of the ice before allowing us to get a closer look at each little crevasse.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7175 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 60 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Some were linear and formed a crack in the glacier for several meters such as the one above but others were circular in shape called moulins.  As we got closer to them, we could see that these were formed by ice melting somewhere high above and creating a stream of water that was hitting the glacier in front of us.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7043 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/16, 1/125 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I was even able to take a short video of this phenomenon.  Please click below to see how the water flows into this crevasse.

As we got higher, I paused even more to take a look at my surroundings and to take it all in.   From this view, we were able to see the end of the fjord.  It was true wilderness with no other humans or infrastructure around for miles on end.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7075 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We came to a spot where there was nice water flow and even took a drink in the little stream of blue water.  The water tasted so fresh and pure with no hint of chemicals or other flavor.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7160 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/320 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As we made it to our final destination, it felt as if we were within reach of the tops of the beautiful ice peaks.  The shapes and lines in the ice were mesmerizing as I snapped one photo after another.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7253 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 26 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After taking a wider angled landscape image, I wanted to capture the detail of the peaks and zoomed in.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7278 August 17, 2018

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 62 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

After two hours of climbing uphill, we began our descent straight down.  The view continued to impress as we climbed down various slopes in the glacier.

Greenland Glacier Hike 7268 August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The group descended quickly and within 20 minutes, we were climbing out of our harnesses and crampons at the base of the glacier.  It was a beautiful day and we were grateful for the muted sun to make the trek even more enjoyable.Greenland Glacier Hike 7285 group August 17, 2018.jpg

Image: Qaleragdlit glacier, South Greenland.  Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

For all of the above images, I shot them hand-held with an ISO at 400 since I was unable to take a tripod with me.  I typically used an aperture of f/16 since I needed a large depth of field to capture both the foreground and background in focus.  Since these two settings were constant, I adjusted my shutter speed between 1/320 and 1/500 for the grander scenes and dropped it to 1/125 when photographing the crevices were I had both light and shadows.

Although I sound like a broken record, the beauty of this land continued to amaze me. Even if we had not climbed the glacier, the potential for photography in the surrounding landscapes was never ending.

To see these images individually and additional ones not posted here, please visit my gallery: Amy’s Impressions

 

 

 

 

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

15 thoughts on “A Glacial Hike to Remember”

  1. Beautiful images. From experience, I know that photographs simply cannot capture the scale of glaciers and convey it in a 2-dimensional medium. I especially like the later shots with the variety of ice shapes, as well as the video.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When we were hiking the Exit Glacier trail in Alaska, we really couldn’t grasp how big the Glacier and the Harding ice field were until we watched a helicopter fly up the glacier and out across the ice field toward the mountain peaks sticking out. That helicopter looked smaller than a hummingbird in no time and the ice was as big as a continent!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the same thing when I first looked at the glacier and the incline but once you have on the crampons, it felt as though my feet just stuck to the ice and I could walk around on it very easily. The water was fabulous!

      Like

  2. Finally catching up on your wonderful blogs after a very busy few weeks, some on the road. I really enjoy learning about the glacier with the information you’ve provided – thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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