After a very wet night we awoke to find the rain dying out and the power supply already dead. At the Alpine Guides building we were issued with ancient boots, crampons and pvc waterproofs and I borrowed a daysac containing a banana skin left by its last user! After a short bus ride to the car park and an uphill walk we slipped the crampons over our boots and we were on the glacier.
The rain had returned and again grew heavy, the pale blue glacier ice and the peaks looking mysterious in the mist. I was surprised at the rocky surface – our guide told us it’s constantly changing as ice melts, collapses, re-forms and is shaped by wind and rain. We’d been too warm as we climbed but the temperature plummetted once we were on the ice – the boots were as waterproof as a pair of sandals and soon we were all suffering from freezing wet feet. As we picked our way towards the ice curtain the weather closed in and a strong wind forced us to curtail the walk. We were to have lunched on the ice and returned for 17:00 but instead went directly back for a late lunch in the café at 15:10.
After dinner we rode out to Lake Matheson, arriving just in time for the setting sun to appear for the first time today and bathe Mount Tasman and the cloud above in a warm orange light, Mount Cook remaining cloud covered. We watched spellbound as the colours darkened and the cloud altered shape.
We completed a busy day by cycling up to the glow worm grotto but were unlucky to arrive at the same time as a large and very noisy party of Japanese tourists who shone torches everywhere. Torches to see glow worms!