Well it was only a matter of time until we experienced the beginning of the monsoon. We woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. Jonathan said around 2:00 a.m. it was raining quite a bit, so eventually that rain turned to snow. Fortunately for us, we had clear skies all morning, which melted the snow quickly and allowed us to get on the glacier and do our first GPR transect.
The start of the GPR was quite interesting. The upper portion of Lhotse-Shar Glacier is covered with bare ice faces that melt so rapidly that there are englacial streams flowing downglacier. Many of these ice faces were greater than 50 m high and similarly the amount of flow in the glacial streams was quite impressive. This all made finding a safe route through the center of the glacier a bit difficult, but Laxmi made it happen! We had picked a route from the lateral moraine of Lhotse-Shar Glacier, but when we got closer we found that there was a large glacier stream (~2.5 m wide) in our way. This is when having our wonderful staff is a life-saver because instead of finding an alternative route, which would have cut off a decent amount of the GPR transect, they took some big boulders and added them to boulders already in the stream to create a bridge for us – impressive!
The actual GPR work can be a bit comical and frustrating. The key is getting everyone to walk at the exact same pace such that the antennas are all properly spaced. The transmitter and receiver each have 2 antenna (or half antenna that create the full antenna) that are 5 m long and extend out both directions with the transmitter or receiver in the center. Additionally, there is a 5 m long piece of webbing between the end of the transmitter’s antenna and the start of the receiver’s antenna. We walk along the glacier in a line with 6 people – Laxmi led the way holding the transmitter’s front antenna, Greta walked with the transmitter in between the transmitter’s antenna, Jonathan followed holding the end of the transmitter’s back antenna and the front of the 5 m piece of webbing, Kamal was behind him holding the front of the receiver’s antenna, I was walking with the receiver and the laptop to ensure we were getting a good signal, and Alina was behind me holding the end of the receiver’s rear antenna. Plus, Prokesh and Adite carried our extra gear (batteries, etc.) and lunch as well. After a rocky start (pun intended), we found our rhythm and walked for 2.5 hrs along the debris-covered glacier of Lhotse-Shar. The first bit of processing appears that things came out quite nicely, which is a great sign.