The last 24 hours have been the toughest so far.
Last night a storm whistled through nearby passes, rattled the tent and shook breath, frozen to the tent inner, onto me.
The high winds slackened at about 13.00 leaving a very sleep-deprived me to join the rest of the team (who were in a similar state) to haul the first two sledges, full of heavy, non-essential gear, up the hill to the pass joining Connell Canyon to the Horseshoe Glacier.
We had been told by an informed employee of ALE (Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions) that the route up to the pass was ‘not too steep and had no crevasses’. Three hours after leaving camp we had hauled only one sledge to the top and the other was halfway up. Another hour and a half later and both were at the top. We had risen, in a distance of approximately 3km, 500m to a height of 1562m (air pressure 798 mbar) – Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles is approximately 1300m. The route up had been exceptionally steep – so much so that at a number of points I was able to touch the ground with my hands as I lent forward into my harness – and littered with crevasses (so much for our informed source). This, on top of the move yesterday which gained us 200m, was exceptionally tiring and when we returned to camp at 19.00 we called it a day. We will hopefully get the other four pulks and sledge of poo (about 50kg we predict) up to the top tomorrow.
This evening has been spent eating, eating and eating some more. It’s incredible that the same food which tasted so boring during a lie-up day can seem so tasty when you’ve just completed five and a half hours of thigh burning, lung expanding, stomach churning work!
The days lost due to the weather and the severity of the challenge posed by this pass mean that we are unlikely to be able to haul all the way back to Patriot Hills. We need to back there on the 8th December, ready to fly out on the 10th (weather permitting). Our plan is undecided.
For those of you following our progress online:
- Camp on the 30th November: 79.50.918 South, 83.03.905 West
- Camp last night and tonight: 79.51.467 South, 83.07.673 West
- The pass: 79.52.286 South, 83.04.934 West