Thursday, January 11, 2007

Playing on the ice

Propper Antarctica!

In spite of the gruelling work, a few of us found the energy to take a trip up to a nearby ice feature. An up-turned berg, trapped in the ice-shelf glinted in the low sun with spectacular wind scoops and cornices to add to the effect. Antarctica really blows the mind! Descriptions of snow such as ‘icing sugar’ and ‘diamond dust’ suddenly made sense and patterns from the low sun on the wind-blown surface snaked to the horizon like a frozen sea. Sitting down to take it all in, I wondered how Fids in Bas’s surveying heyday must have felt when dumped on the ice with one colleague, 18 dogs, a blank map and the instructions “fill that in, we’ll pick you up in three months”?!

Chris on the ice

Pondering done, I returned to the base of the berg where Toddy (GA) and Chris (Ship’s
2nd Mate) had a top-rope rigged on an appealingly steep section of ice. Toddy offered me a go, but as he didn’t have crampons in my size, I was left to tackle the crag with a pair of axes and my large Mukluk snow-boots. Not revealing my miss-spent undergraduate days dangling off crags of Snowdonia, I bet a round of drinks the Mukluks would get me to the top. I got to the bulge easily enough, thrashed at the lip and fell into my harness. After a couple more failed lunges, I scooped out a large enough hold for my left foot and with furious hacking and grunting I was over the top! A hard won beer always tastes best.

The Mukluks winning me a beer


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