Since we arrived at our new base camp we’ve been busy exploring our new surroundings and pushing up through the Lliboutry Glacier to see what lay beyond. On the 8th Feb, Al, Stubbsy, Pete, Mitch, Jules and Rob donned their pulk harnesses yet again and pushed out for a 3 day recce across the Heim Glacier to the base of Mount Rendu. Sam stayed behind to discuss plans for the final two weeks with Paul Edwards and Stu spent the day pulking Red Team’s supplies from the shoreline to the new joint Red and Green Team base camp. The 9th Feb, saw Mitch and Stubbsy complete a small unknown peak near the base of Rendu before the team had to return to base camp on the 10th to resupply.
Stu took the opportunity to join up with the Red Team for a few days and managed to complete another unclimbed peak and was rewarded with some stunning views of the area and for the first time calm weather on the tops, which meant he was able to enjoy the view and not worry about trying to re-heat his frozen hands for a change.
The 11th Feb saw Stu, with the help of Sam, finally fix our deployed solar panels meaning at last we can recharge our batteries and thus our laptops, not bad given we only have 2 weeks left to run!
The 12th Feb had the team carry out three activities; Sam and Pete took the opportunity to head out on our small boats with Paul Edwards, Rich Simpson and Stu Fletcher and headed across to Blaiklock for some ski touring and meet some of the local wildlife.
Stubbsy and Stu Q spent the day at base camp making their first ever igloo which you can see in the photographs, it’s not perfect but for a first effort it wasn’t too bad and is surprisingly warm when the wind blows.
As for Jules, Mitch and Al they disappeared off in search of another local unclimbed peak, which is where Jules takes up the story:
We were told yesterday that there would be very high winds for most of today that would effect the ambient temperature from -10 degrees to -35 degrees C, due to the effects of the wind chill.
The wind really picked up in the night, and we had resigned ourselves to a quick ski tour to check out a potential climbing route on the other side of the glacier and got in our big thick “doss bags”. As we dozed off, the tent nylon was making that familiar whipping noise, and I found it nice and comforting, a bit like the sound of heavy rain on the windows back in my home.
8 hrs later we woke up, got the stove on the go, and poked our heads out of the tent, and there was a gentle breeze, joy! Mitch, Al and myself headed out to go up into the Boyle Mountains, which are over 1000m high and right next to the water.
Unfortunately, Mitch was at the front of the rope, and the thing about Mitch is he only goes at one speed, fast. We went up a steep ramp of hard snow and ice, and we used our ski crampons to scratch our way up. It took quite a lot of concentration for me not to slip, and keep up with Mitch’s pace at the same time. I wasn’t bothered though, as it was gusting quite high winds up there so the pace was good to keep warm.
We began to think the weather might get the better of us, and considered having to go down early. The snow flurrys were coming and the cloud looked like it may close in on us leading to a white-out, but we made the joint decision to push on for a maximum of 30 minutes, or until the weather got any worse. Just as the snow started stinging as it hit our faces, we were on the plateau. I looked back and could see Al’s big white teeth from under his hood, I knew why he was smiling and I was doing the same. We turned left and pushed up to one of the summits.
When we arrived we laughed, chatted, ate something quickly and sorted out kit for the descent. The views are pretty cool as they are right on the edge of the ocean, you can see all the way over the icebergs to our previous base camp location on the Forbes Glacier.
Before we knew it we were following Mitch down the route we came, carefully making sure we didn’t do any wrong turns that might cause us problems. Al was awesome as he was laughing and talking all the way down, which was impressive as he openly admits he is not the best skier in the world. I fell over once and managed not to be seen by the other two, then gloriously face planted right in front of them both. As we got near the bottom, Mitch decided he wanted to do the same, and did. I skied up to him, looked down at his grinning snow covered face and as seriously as I could, started giving him advice about how not to let it happen again. I really relished this, as nearly everything I know about skiing Mitch has taught me over the last month or so.
We then zipped back to base camp, with Al filming as we went, and got back in to hand shakes, pats on the back, and all round big smiles. Rob, my trusty tent buddy got the brews on and all was good. An igloo had been built by Stubbsy in the meantime, which we all looked at slightly bemused, and jointly agreed was pretty impressive. Sam Marshall popped back from across the bay on the inflatable boat after doing a recce of the south ridge of the 2000m Mount Rendu, and we were pretty impressed when we saw the photo of the boat he managed to land on an ice sheet.
Dinner, and a game of scrabble later, it’s bed time. As I write this, Rob is reading his trusty kindle with his torch, as it gets dark at night now, and Mitch will start snoring within the next 10 minutes. I have been made to change my socks, as apparently they have started to “singe the nostrils”, and the glacier nearby is still making dull cracking noises as it slowly breaks apart and falls into the sea. Life is good, goodnight.
Location went to: S 67 deg 31.623, W 006 deg 37.426 1026m.