A MORPETH adventurer literally chilled out this summer by going on a glacier trek.
Jamie Pattison provided assistance to a group a scientists, who did a survey of the body of ice in Norway to help measure the effects of global warming.
In temperatures between zero and -10°C, he was one of the people in charge of moving the experts across the glacier, located in the Tunsbergdalsbreen area of the country, in a rope team.
The 20-year-old got some free time to do some climbing up ice walls and also got a little taste of 1950s culture when picking up items discarded by expedition parties during that decade.
“To map the movement of the glacier the scientists needed to go in as straight a line as possible so my role was to keep them safe and take them over or around crevasses depending on their size,” he said.
“I had to be switched on all the time in case someone got stuck or injured themselves and we had to plan ahead because on this glacier you can go straight from a nice flat section to an awkward crevasse.
“It’s a spectacular area of nature and it was an amazing place to be in because you are in your own little world with it being uninhabited.
“We went round the big crevasses, but jumped over the ones up to 2.5m wide. Knowing that some of them were 500m deep meant it was a sublime feeling when I went over them, although I would describe the feeling when we approached them as an horrific joy.
“I also really enjoyed the challenge of climbing up the ice walls.”
The group travelled by ferry and car to get to Norway and after a couple of days settling in, they went up to a spot where they could take photographs of the glacier to compare them to the pictures taken by trekkers in the 1950s.
On the same day they collected a range of items that had been left behind in the area by those teams.
Mr Pattison said: “I was in awe of the glacier as it’s a huge 18km sheet of ice and you could hear the wind blowing on it as well as bits falling off.
“It was interesting to see some of the things from the 50s, such as a tin of Colman’s Mustard and a pair of ripped trousers.”
Before getting to work, there were three days of training on a smaller glacier to help the scientists get used to crampons and ice axes, practice walking together attached to rope as a group and do rescue exercises.
The tasks on the main glacier included studying the terrain and putting down painted stones at particular co-ordinates, as well as finding stones from previous expeditions in recent years, to find out how much it has moved and shrunk as temperatures in the region generally get warmer.
The Health and Exercise Science foundation degree student at Newcastle College added: “It was amazing how the glacier is always changing.
“For example, one day I was able to get across an ice bridge, but the next day it wasn’t possible because a big chunk of it had fallen off.
“It also surprised me how many sections of it were grey and black as I thought it would be pretty much all white.”
Mr Pattison is planning to go on another climbing trek next year, with possible locations including the French Alps and New Zealand.
On Sunday, he is taking part in the Great North Run to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.