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Vinson: Up To Low Camp

I always thought that Antarctica was cold. And, I’m sure it is sometimes; we just haven’t really seen that yet, and I for one am not complaining.

Our day began with a late-morning breakfast, brilliantly prepared by Seth and Caroline. We don’t bother to get moving until mid-morning; it’s warmer then, and with perpetual daylight, there’s no real worry about setting camp before nightfall. After breakfast came the mountainous task of sorting and packing our various piles of equipment: food, stoves, ropes, crampons, tents, clothes, bags, pads…all of it needed to move uphill, either in a backpack or on a sled. And, for Kent and I, there was a bit more; laptop, batteries, cameras, satellite phone, and a solar charger had to be added to the mix.

But, somehow, we got most of it. Seth and Caroline headed off early, on skis, toting heavily-laden sleds full of group and personal gear. The rest of us - Peter, Ed, Cindy, David, Ben, Kent, and I - followed along under the blistering sun of Antarctica. It is amazing: While the actual air temperature might only be zero or less, with no wind and bright sun, it feels much, much warmer. So warm, in fact, that we all were in midweight baselayers most of the day. But, even the slightest puff of wind chills to the bone and sends one running for gloves, hat, and a Downlight Sweater.

After just over five hours on the trail, we crested a small knoll and saw the ice-block walls of Low Camp ahead. Tired but happy, we pulled in. Seth and Caroline had arrived long before, and hot drinks were waiting on our arrival - not bad service for 9,200 feet in Antarctica.

Above us, stunning peaks rise all around, and the eternal sun blazes overhead. It’s colder here, but still pretty nice. I’m smiling…

-Jake Norton


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