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“I Survived A Rockfall On A Glacier…”

Krystle Morley tells of taking cover while climbing a glacier in New Zealand

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Krystle Morley is totally rad. She’s 28 and is in the midst of completing a degree in environmental science at Sheffield Hallam University. There’s a wide range of sporting hobbies on her roster: from scuba diving to surfing, mountain biking to hiking. But this year, her love of adventure resulted in a terrifying, near-death experience on a New Zealand glacier. Yikes!

When I speak to her, she’s just returned from seeing a doctor about a slap tear she got while mountain biking. Considering the topic of our discussion, I’m amazed that she’s still as active as ever. But as we talk, I quickly realise that nothing could stop this humorous and relentlessly positive girl from enjoying herself in nature.

She’s also got the world’s best accent, and says “Crikey!” a lot. Read on for her amazing story.

I went to New Zealand this summer. I’m studying environmental science, so for me it’s an interesting place. There’s lots of volcanic activity – earthquakes, landslides and, of course, rockfalls. 

I wouldn’t really call what I was doing a proper climb. I was on the Franz Josef Glacier with two other novices and our guide. We were climbing up some of the small faces of the ice, with crampons and two ice axes each. By the end of it I think I’d almost got the technique down. I made a comment that it was like climbing a really pathetic version of the wall in Game of Thrones!

It was all good fun and largely uneventful. We went for a walk through an ice tunnel which was amazing. Then we headed back to the helipad to get picked up, and took our crampons and helmets off because the helicopter was on its way.

Then there was just this almighty, loud bang. It sounded like a thunderclap, but because it was in a valley I wondered if somebody was shooting something… I turned around, looked up and then took a photo of the rocks as they began tumbling down the mountainside.

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It didn’t look like it was going to come anywhere near us. Then there was a few seconds where I thought, “Wait a minute. Do we need to run? Are we OK?” I looked at the guide’s face… there were rocks flying twenty foot in the air above the glacier. That’s when we realised it wasn’t going to stop in time. The guide just shouted “Run!”. I’m not entirely sure where I was running to. I was just running until I got told to do something else, and covering my head because I thought that if even a little stone were to hit me, it was going hurt. 

Then our guide took me by the scruff of the neck, trying to keep me upright, before grabbing me and shouting “Get down”. We all huddled together to let the rocks fly over us. The noise was something else. It was utterly amazing; I can’t think of any other way to describe it.

The rubble ranged from tiny little gravel pieces to boulders the size of an old Mini. I was just thinking, “Are we going to get through this?”.

Click through for the rest of Krystle’s story…

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