Drones hate the rain

    Rain was in the forecast and predicted to start around midday and continue on until evening the following day. Our drone is unable to operate in the rain. Not even in a drizzle because it has exposed electronics and if they get wet, the drone is toast.

    So there were some decisions to be made. Do we try to beat the rain and bring all the equipment with us? Should we leave the drone, etc. and just a few people go up with small packs to scout the location? We decided we would all just go and bring the equipment and make the best of whatever happened.

    There were several possible access points that Luke and Neil had scoped out on Google Earth. One road showed promise that started at the base of the valley and wound up the valley to the base of a stream not far from the forefield. Five minutes into our trip up this road and an angry government worker was yelling at us in French that we were not allowed on the road. Whoops!

    One narrow mountain road U-turn later and we were headed back to the tourist trailhead parking lot a few kilometers away that we had passed on the way down the valley. Again, we all decided to hike with the equipment to try to make the best of the morning.

    Our target was the forefield of Trient GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity., a ~4.3 km long glacier situated in the Mont Blanc Massif in the canton of Valais. Like all the other alpine glaciers in the area, it too has experienced a lot of recession.

    Trient 3
    Historic photograph showing the size of Trient Glacier in 1891.

    Trient 4
    Photograph showing the size of Trient Glacier in 2009.

    The trail in felt like a nice stroll in the park compared to the trail at Tsanflueron. We passed several large tour groups on the path and were treated to some scenic views.

    Trient 1
    View along the hiking path to Trient Glacier.

    Trient 2
    Getting closer to Trient Glacier. You can see it in the mountain valley in the upper right part of the picture.

    Trient 7
    Closer view of Trient Glacier from the trail.

    Right as we got to the hut at the end of the trail, we could see the rain clouds coming in quickly on our heels. The weather turned and our group and about 20 tourists piled into the small indoor space at the hut. It was decided that Anna and I would stay in the hut with almost all the equipment while the rest of the group would split up into two teams to scout out the approach to the forefield. The issue was that we needed to know if there was a spot that would allow us to safely cross the river.

    Trient 5
    Anna, myself, and 20 tourists crammed into the small hut by Trient Glacier during the downpour.

    Trient 6
    The sacrifices we had to make for science! In order to stay in the dry hut with the equipment we needed to buy something. We are not enjoying this fresh apricot torte!

    The groups slowly reported back that they could not find a place to safely cross. So sadly we needed to abandon the attempt to map this glacial forefield.

    No science today. We will regroup and science tomorrow.

    PolarTREC Poppy

    Poppy helping us watch over all the equipment at the hut at the base of Trient GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity..

    Poppy Trient
    PolarTREC Poppy helping us with the very important job of watching over the equipment inside the hut at Trient Glacier during the rain storm.

    Daily Haiku

    Best laid plans do not
    always work in the field, think
    on your feet, new plan