Monday, December 28, 2009

Camping/ Mountaineering/ and Ice climbing

After we had our last field training session, we were cleared to head out for activities! We hopped into the snowcat and headed up the ramp to climb Badger’s Buttress. Here with helmets and crampons on our boots, we roped up five in a line to each other and started up the mountain. The climb was icy, snowy and a bit challenging at times, but the view from the top was totally worth it. It was absolutely magnificent to perch at the top of the peak and look out. After the climb back down, we headed to set up camp.

Finally after digging a 12ft by 12ft square hole in the ground for the pyramid tent and getting it all set up, we were ready to melt some snow to cook our dinner. “Manfood” as it is referred to here, is probably quite terrible in reality, but rehydrated “pasta carbonara” from a silver pouch tastes pretty decent after a full day! Sleep was easy to find after we curled up into our sleeping bags. The next morning we awoke to find it had snowed about 8 inches. Great! More snow to dig our tents out of. Setting up and taking down camp in the Antarctic is NOT an easy task. After spending a few hours taking down the tents, we hoped back into the snowcat, back towards Rothera for a Christmas Eve ice climb down the crevasse.

Climbing down the crevasse was such an experience. We repelled down a two foot wide hole in the snow about 30 feet into the first “ice cavern”. Inside the crevasse was just like being inside a cave made of ice. Although it is supposedly stunning on a sunny day, my view on this cloudy day was still spectacular. One downfall, pictures do not turn out on a cloudy day. We’ll just have to go back on a sunny day. We then climbed further down the crevasse through a few more tight squeezes (which I must say I honestly wasn’t thrilled about, but it was totally worth it in the end). The icicles were just beautiful. Mimicking huge stalagtites and stalagmites, they almost glow blue-ish green. It was such a perfect way to spend Christmas Eve morning.

Some photos:
Photo 1: Badgres's Buttress
Photo 2: getting ready to climb
Photo 3: making our way up
Photo 4: at the top
Photo 5: view from the top
Photo 6: tents
Photo 7: cozy inside the tent

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