Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nigardsbreen – Nigard Glacier

So, since I was talking about the glacier just outside the town of Fjærland in the last post, I thought the next natural thing on my list of Norwegian tourist attractions/places to visit, would be another glacier. (In case you haven’t read the other posts – I am in Norway on holidays and while I’m here I am posting about Norway. I’ll get back to Spain in not too long!)

There are two glacier arms that are easily reached as they end at just about 300 meters above sea level. One is the one at Fjærland and the other one is Nigardsbreen, another glacier arm of the big Jostedalsbreen, the biggest glacier on continental Europe. This glacier has about 50 arms here and there... It’s big you see, and to try to put it into perspective, Jostedalsbreen covers 487 square kilometers, it is 600 meters at the thickest and the total length is more than 60 km.
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Nigardsbreen is considered one of the best places to go on guided glacier-walks as it’s so easy accessable. It's not like many other glaciers where you actually need to hike for hours to even reach it. In summer there are different tours arranged several times a day and you can choose between different difficulty and tour lengths. The guides show you how to use the equipment (included in the price) such as crampons and ice axes and the groups are maximum 16 persons per guide.
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The glacier is maintained by the snowfall in the region, not the cold temperatures. I don’t remember exactly the number of years the guide told us, but I think the snowfall this year predicts how the glaciar will retract or move forward in 20 years time. That was a cool fact I wasn’t aware of. 

The snow that does not melt in summer, slowly becomes compact shiny blue ice from increasing pressure and inner flow. That blue colour is one of the prettiest colours I have ever seen in nature! (And the black shadows you can see is not pollution but different forms of debris. If you want to read more about why most glaciers become grey/black, have a look at this article.



Some history:
  • During the 18th century Nigardsbreen expanded due to very cold weather and lots of snow
  • Between 1700 and 1748, the glacier moved forward about 4 km and completely covered and crushed the Nigard Farm (thereby the name, Nigardsbreen= Nigard Glacier)
  • In  1930 the glacier started retracting again
The views over Jostedal Valley and Nigard Glacier Lake, seen from the glacier
It felt quite surreal but still very cool to be walking on ice (ehm..actually a glacier!) in the middle of summer! I was the only Norwegian on this guided tour though! People from all over the world came to experience this, and it's thanks to foreign friends visiting Norway that I got around to do this myself. (I'll be honest, it did feel a bit weird to be the only Norwegian in the group at a tourist attraction in Norway.) But it was a very cool experience. Something I had never really considered doing, but am so so glad I did!

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Some facts:
  • glacier is always moving
  • It's dangerous walking on a glacier without a guide unless you are super familiar with glaciers, as there are always cracks and they can be quite deep. In other words, if you fall down one of those and are on your own, you pretty much finished your life.
  • The cracks are normally not more than 50 meters deep (but I think 50 meters is plenty- imagine falling down one of them...)
  • There are normally more cracks where the movement is bigger
  • The most dangerous cracks are those hidden under recent snowfalls and thus are hard to see 
  • In summer, when the glacier melts, tunnels and little lakes can be created in the lower altitudes

To get to the glacier, you have to drive to the Glacer Visitor Centre, 11 km. south of Jostedalen. Then you get on a boat taking you across the lake of Nigardsbrevatnet (Nigard Glacier Lake) to access the glacier.

I went on the ”Blue Ice Trip” with 3 hours on the ice and a total duration of 4,5 hours. 

Ever done a glacier walk? 

The Jostedal Valley seen from the bottom of the glacier. The water in the river and lake is from the glacier.

I have also posted about 
in case you are interested!

14 comments:

  1. This is amazing! I don't know if I have the nerve to do that...it freaks me out a bit!

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    1. Hehe, it didn't feel scary at all actually. We were all "tied together" and with the guide deciding where we went all the time it was just an amazing experience with no fear of anything, simply enjoying every minute of it!

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  2. I have never done a glacier walk but it looks so interesting and beautiful...I really hope I will be able to do one someday! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Katrin. It surprised me, as I had never really considered doing it before, but it turned out an awesome experience!

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  3. I'm so envious! How beautiful and exciting. I would love to have done this glacier walk with you. You seriously get up to some exciting things. Enjoy your time at home xoxox

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    1. Thank you sweetie, I would have loved to have you there too! An absolutely beautiful experience!

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  4. Oh wow! This must be an amazing site to see!

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  5. Wow. This looks a little terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

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    1. Actually it wasn't the least bit terrifying, it felt so completely safe with the guide there and the equipment (crampons and ice axe) - it was great cause like that we got to just simply enjoy this unique experience! I'd love to do it again!

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  6. I would love to do a glacier walk! I cannot imagine how it must feel to walk on something so monumental! Your travels are so amazing, I don't know how you left Norway (although your adventures in Spain sounds pretty amazing also, of course!)

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    1. It's hard to describe it, but I think you are on to how great an experience it was!! Really unique and special. Thank you for your kind words, but unfortunately my everyday life in Norway was far less exciting that this ;)

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