Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cramps and Balrogs

I managed to leave the Blue Ice Bar at 11 or so having played some atrocious pool. I should mention that earlier in the day I had had trouble booking into the YHA hostel I am in. Initially I had been given a two bed room, really nice, and had just made my bed when a knock at the door dispelled the dream. I had been given the wrong room. I was out. And into a five bed dorm. Not too bad though as I was the second person there and got a single bed (avoiding the bunks). Later going into the room I met another occupant, a 60 something little Japanese man. He muttered to himself and when he wasn't muttering he wheezed and gasped while he pottered endlessly. I suspected this might be a snorer. When I got back from the bar, Little Japanese Man was fast asleep and snoring like a vacuum cleaner. he alternated his approach constantly and managed to defeat my ear plugs. On the rare occasion he was silent another occupant, an elderly English gent took up the running. I got very little sleep. Talking to Phillip the next day, it transpired this was the Little Japanese Man that had forced the four occupants of his room in Wellington out to the tv lounge for sleep.

Let us be under no illusions. Snorers are the balrogs of hostels, creatures of fire and smoke that choke your ear canals, casting you down into the chasms of wakefulness. Little Japanese Man or Misshapen Hulk they are evil and must be destroyed. Unfortunately I could not bring myself to wring the neck of the Little Japanese Man and as a result I went to the Franz Josef Glacier at 8.15 wary of my physical abilities.

I must confess I was worried about the glacier and a steep climb up 150 feet of ice was promised. Even before we got there we were warned and prepared for a ladder. How huge would this ladder be? Built into the cliff face it had to be at least 100 foot. It wasn't. It was a common or gardener one with chains to secure it. heartened by this I was heartened still more when we finally reached the ice face after 40 minutes walk; it was very unterrifying after all. Very soon I was convinced I had overcome my fear of heights and was bounding up ice steps. Of course, I hadn't overcome my fear, but I encountered nothing to aggravate it. I did discover, however, that I was surest of my footing when I didn't apply my conscious mind to the task of climbing. Automatically I was fine. Unfortunately being part of a group means you are constantly stopping and starting as those ahead of you stop or ease up. I was impatient to storm ahead. After some food though, my mind took notice once more of the walking and I was less sure of my footing. All in all though, I think I did a good job and I really enjoyed my 8 hour hike. Only at the end, as my body started to wind though knowing the end was near, did a cramp begin in my leg. I made it back well.


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