Improved knowledge of geometrical boundary conditions, such as bedrock geometry and surface topography, can contribute significantly to glaciological studies including ice-sheet-flow modelling. Precise thickness and altimetric data allow an estimation of ice-flow direction, the balance velocity and the basal shear stress. These parameters are calculated along a 1160 km profile in East Antarctica using a relationship between shear stress, basal temperature, the Glen flow exponent and a parameter related to strain rate. Strong variations of the flow-law parameters and basal conditions are found to play a major role in the ice-flow pattern. Sliding, anisotropy and longitudinal stress strongly perturb the validity of the law, but their signature can be identified.