The valley below the tongue of Miage Glacier, home to me for the past two weeks is well populated by axe wielding, beard sporting, kilt wearing Celts! It's a mixture of bizarre and amazing, with some great music and crazy dress codes. My time on and off glacier has been supported by some bagpipes, violins and drums since Thursday... the fact that my tent has been boxed in by mobile homes and barking dogs is only mildly irritating considering I gain a free festival of music and character from the comfort of my wifi enabled hammock... sweet! More on this here.
Some cool tree decorations... didn't get a shots of axe wielding Celts though.
Resting my feet after a solid 2 weeks of glacier trekking feels good, though with plenty of data to organise already. The main reason the feet have become destroyed from glacier trekking may have something to do with the relentless presence of debris on the surface and rapid change and retreat of it's ice cliffs, where ice exposed to the air at such a low altitude rapidly melts and shifts the pattern of rock and sediment. The main annoyance is the movement between the upper an lower glacier. My common description is like the beginning of the second Lord of the Rings installment where Frodo and Sam are attempting to get to Mordor but get lost scrambling around the similar appearance of jagged rocks. Thankfully access to the upper glacier alone has a wonderful route around the western moraine ridge with a view over the Lago Combal + a lovely 200m climb to the glacier.
Happy to say now that since the beginning of July all my temperature stations and weather stations are in operation even though the 'amazing' GPS locates them somewhere between here and Argentina. Following this, each station has been neighboured by a 2m PVC pipe from B&Q to act as a measure of melt under the different surface types and elevations up the glacier. Manually drilling into the ice after digging up nearly 1m of debris at times really makes you appreciate the ability to attach an electric drill to the end of it (as was the case in Svalbard). The fact that some anonymous undergraduates clearly blunted it through drilling in to debris didn't help progress... but replacing the blades of the drill then made me practically fly into the ice! thank you Kovacs and your sharp drill heads, you saved me from a midnight ice drilling attempt...
Now I plan to enjoy a more relaxed stroll across the Miage over the next week to monitor my ablation stakes and download station data before I leave. Accompanying me will be some scary Celts and some weather with mixed feelings. Funnily enough, I get the strange looks for being geared up with ropes and ice axes, this bald, kilted guy needs to take a look at the blue paint on his face an return to his Celtic horn.
I leave you with a few time lapse images of clouds (used for science purposes... honest) over the lower weather station.
The camera was moved a bit for the last two.... not enough clouds :)