Spending Time at Low Camp
It is 1:30 AM, the sun is still shining brightly out and I’ve just crawled in the tent. It has been a long day -in lots of good ways. Once the sun runs into the western rib of Vinson at around 3 AM, we don’t get it again until 11:30. That is the downside of being so close in to the massive west wall of Vinson, but there are upsides. We get an incredible view of this 2,000 meter face of rock and snow with its three immense ice strreams tumbling downward in the slowest of motion. We climbed the northern end of the wall today, carrying a load of supplies up a thousnd meters or so to high camp. A snowstorm had been forecast, but instead we got nothing but intense sun and a giant blue sky. It was literally the perect day for climbing in Antarctica. Most of our day was spent working up a long section of fixed rope. Before we’d gone very far up the steep snow we were treated to unlimited views out to the west. Ice, ice and more ice… Way out to the horizon where it usually gets tough to tell the divide between Earth and sky. It took us six and a half hours to get up to high camp, which we reached at 8 pm (we don’t do early starts in such a cold place when camp is in shadow) and we were back down at low camp again by 10:30. Dinner was a welcome chance to sit around and talk over the roar of our stoves. It does take hours to melt all of the snow we require for water after such a long day out.
Tomorrow we may move up to high camp, or we may rest for a day… It depends on how strong the gang looks at our 11:30 breakfast, and on whether that snowstorm finds us.
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