Glenn Charles

Adventurer | Photographer | Connector

Today I am a Time Traveler with a Camera... Tomorrow, who knows

What happens when the face of a Glacier collapses

I was camped up in the farthest corner of Glacier Bay, on the beautiful Black Sand beach at the face of the magnificent Johns Hopkins glacier.  It had been raining for days, and the the glacier had been calving non-stop.  I was actually in my tent trying to rest and stay dry when I first heard the most amazing boom ever.  I knew something large had happened, so I flung open my tent tarp and saw the entire body of water rising and sinking in front of me.  The pictures, shot at an extreme wide angle do not due justice to the size of the waves. The ice was crashing onto the beach, closer and closer each time.  I thought sure my tent and YAK were going to be ruined.  Thank goodness it stopped before getting to the tent, and even more importantly, there was no one on the water. Not 15 minutes before this happened there had been a guide with a family (2 adults &  2 children) right on the beach eating lunch.  I hesitate to think what could have happened to them if they had not left when they did.  Lesson, RESPECT the water all the time, especially over-active calving glaciers.

The next day, I had to portage my Kayak and Gear over the huge chunks of ice in order to get into the water and paddle off.  It took more than an hour to exit the area because of the ice flow.

Black sand beach, minutes before glacier calves

Crashing ice onto beach. Note the waves still coming in

10 Feet protects my tent from the Ice Flow