As our Norwegian adventure continued, our last big adventure before heading back to civilization in Bergen was to ascend the Nigardsbreen glacier, an arm of Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in Europe. Nigardsbreen is named after the “Nigard” farm lower in the valley that it completely covered and destroyed in the 1700s. The glacier, like many, is retreating as the snow accumulation isn’t enough to keep up with the melting zone.
We felt pretty fortunate to not only see a glacier so up close, but also to be able to climb up onto it. The day was one of the rainiest since we got to Norway and also one of the coldest. Being near a glacier didn’t help any of it! After a short boat ride across the lake and a hike along slippery rock faces and a very narrow rope bridge, we reached the wall of the glacier.
We donned our spiky shoes, harnesses, and roped up all together and before we knew it were stepping up onto the ice. Movement was slow, but we actually covered a lot more ground than expected, nearing almost all of the way to see the end further up the valley. Our guide told us about how the different glacial structures formed and quizzed us on different facts. We were one of only two or three groups on the ice.
The views, even in the windy, cold mist, were spectacular. Layers and layers of ice spread around us. There were sharp edges and smooth curves. Pictures were hard to capture between stops and with it being so wet, but I managed to get some amazing ones throughout the trip.
At our highest point, we stopped to eat our lunches and chat with each other, unroping and able to explore a little on our own. All in all, we spent a few hours on the ice. Such an amazing experience, and it’s hard to imagine that we climbed something that one day may no longer be there at all. Still, the sheer enormity and power makes you feel very small.