After being pinned down in Base Camp for a day by high winds, today was a very successful day for the Red Team.
Stu, Paul, Rich and Ali on their summit
Paul, Rich, Ali and I got up early to load our two small inflatable boats with kit to make a journey around the coast to see what we could climb from a previously unexplored glacier that we’d spotted a few days before. Not many ski tours start at sea level and there are a number of difficulties involved in that sort of day out. For a start you have to climb the mountain from the lowest point possible to its top and after a spell in an open boat in the Antarctic Ocean you’re not generally as warm and dry as you’d like to be! Add to that the problem of getting a boat that normally takes 8 men to lift out of the sea before you can leave the beach and you’ve got some idea of the problems involved.
Those problems overcome by a combination of cunning and brute force we set off for a fantastic day touring straight up to one of the highest peaks in the area, a beautiful dome of snow sitting at the head of the glacier. We skied to within a few hundred meters of the top before swapping skis and poles for crampons and axes for the final steep bit. About 45 minutes after the last summit photo had been taken, we were standing back by the beach having made short work of the descent through a combination of fantastic soft powdery snow, six inch high rock hard wind blasted snow waves and scoured glacial ice, all in pretty much equal measure and each fun in their own way!
S 67 49.400
W 066 44.868″
Will and I headed north up the glacier from base camp to a mountain we had previously been eyeing up on the many journeys up and down the glacier. We had seen a line up though some pretty nasty looking serac fields and onto a steep face leading to a pointed summit. Unknown to us it also was to be the highest in this mountain range realising only after a fare effort from sea level to 1272m.
The face proved to be very cold as wind pelted the mountain and saw us stopping to get the feeling back in our fingers a number of times. We were rewarded for our efforts with stunning 360° views of over 50 miles of the peninsular as this was our first cloud free summit. The way down proved to be interesting with the mountain stripped of snow by the recent high winds we found ourselves skiing steep slopes with sastrugii forming breaks and barriers just ready to catch the edge of your ski and send you on a speedy descent. Luckily we both found our way down without incident and were soon in base camp.
S 67 50.182
W 066 46.377″
After a quick skin up the South bank of Narrow Glacier, Ivar and I arrived at the base of a broad snow filled gulley which we thought (and hoped) would lead to the summit ridge of the mountain above our Base Camp. At the beginning of our trip we had climbed some new routes on the mountain’s East Flank but failed to make the summit due to bad weather; so today was very much about unfinished business.
With the exception of a short section of ice we moved together up the 600m gulley system and were chuffed when getting to the top to find that we were only a further 50m from the previously unclimbed summit. The weather was beautifully clear and not too breezy so we took our time to enjoy lunch and take photos before re-tracing our steps to Base Camp.
S 67 52.198
W 066 45.972″
So three unclimbed peaks ticked, all in all a pretty good day at the office!!