Saturday, July 27, 2019

Glaciers Going Going Gone: Blue Lakes and Tasman Lake

My snark yesterday about the crowds clearly reflects the success of NZ tourism's efforts to reach out to new markets and promote visits in the off season. I laughed when we pulled into the parking area for today's walk.

In 2015, Art and I regularly parked in lots that were empty, walked mountains and beaches as the sole visitors, and deeply appreciated every moment. Times have definitely changed.

For our second walk in Aoraki/Mount Cook we headed today to the Blue Lakes and Tasman Lake, the latter featuring icebergs, according to one recommendation.

It was a mostly uphill walk, with a big payoff in views. The sad reality, though, is that this series of smaller lakes was formerly the result of glacial run-off. The lakes are now green, filled with rainwater, not the glacial turquoise of the the past.

So we're losing not only ice, but color.

We made an attempt to follow this path around one of the little lakes, laughing and turning back when it turned into boulder road.

Climbing ever higher to Tasman Lake.

Yesterday was a stroll, today a stairclimb.

Tasman Lake is a beautiful thing, situated downstream from the Tasman Glacier, with a few wee icebergs.

I sensed if we waited a few hours they'd melt before our eyes.

The glacier has virtually disappeared.

And in 1990

The sad answer to this is: just about gone.

See the pitiful remnants? A grievous loss of beauty and complexity.

At the start of the trip I read Dahr Jamail's End Of Ice, a devastating account of our shrinking planetary refrigerator and the relentless destruction of human habitat. We're currently on course for the hottest July on record. If you read any science at all, you're devastated for what we're losing.

I'm ready to turn my back on the lost glacier. Down looks easier...and it is.
 Flooding, slumping, and avalanching

That sign above is posted at a 4WD road that runs along the edge of these avalanche paths.

Unless you have these skills, it's not worth the risk. I did wonder, however, if it would be better or worse to be buried by an avalanche inside or outside a Land Rover...

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