Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sledge Golf - Part 2

Sunday 16th - Drinking Tea

As if by law, the fine weather of Saturday had to be followed by a good old storm. I stuck my head out at 9am to see a carpet of drifting snow and not a lot else, so went straight back to bed. The afternoon was spent melting snow and trying to re-hydrate after loosing a lot of water the day before. I'd read about this chore in many mountaineering books, but before camping down here, I though snow melted (and boiled) quite quickly. Despite pumping the Primus till it roared like a jet engine, it still took a surprisingly long time to fix a brew and fill the flasks.

The rest of the day passed with the simple pleasures of playing cards, chatting and feeding. And hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Sune passes the time

Monday 17th - Crevassing

Another whitish grey start, but what's a holiday with a lie-in, anyway?
We eventually dragged ourselves up in time for lunch and treated it as more of a late breakfast - (nice warm Alpen muesli, eaten from the packet) , instead of the usual field-feed of frozen Mars Bar.

Poor contrast stops exploring

Although the wind had died, poor contrast made seeing crevasses, hidden beneath a coating of fresh snow, especially difficult. With this in mind, we decided rather than to risk falling in un-expectedly, we would pick one and explore it further. We didn't have to venture far to find a suitable slot.

Bashing into a crevasse

I set an anchor using two 60cm snow stakes, equalised on a sling. Back in Snowdonia I used to find gloves got in the way when manipulating ropes and hardware, but my hands seem to be learning and I was surprised how much could be done without removing the massive Bear Paws.

Me abseiling in

Once set up, we clipped on our figure-8 (abseiling device) and jumars (metal toothed cams to some back up the rope), and dropped into the slot.

Being sheltered from the wind made the crevasse a lot warmer than the surface, so I could take time to nose around and look closely at the layers. The snow-bridge at the top starts with powder snow, gradually becoming more compressed at its base, but still loose enough not to take an axe placement. The walls themselves are much firmer compressed snow, becoming solid ice towards the bottom, some 50m below.

Me near the top with snow-bridge behind

Looking down towards Sune

This was more than just a photo opportunity. As crevasses are a hazard, knowing how to get out of them is actually part of our health and safety training! So, camera safely pocketed, I sat back in the harness and fumbled with the jumars, clipping each to the rope in turn and gently transferring my weight onto that system. Once happy they were gripping, I removed the abseil kit and headed upwards. Jumaring is warm work. To climb the rope, you stand up in a sling attached to the lower unit, then raise the one attached to your waist to a higher point before re-weighting the harness. Then the lower sling-carrier is brought up and the process repeated, gaining a couple of feet each time. I really wish I took a photo of this system now!

The afternoon flew by, getting us hungry enough to run the social risk of eating curry in a tent! Tucking in to tea, Dean called up on the HF radio for our daily safety schedule and to our surprise was joined by Tristan, coms manager at Rothera station some 1200 miles away. After talking shop, Tris agreed to cover for our frozen iPods and play us some music.

I should probably apologise to all within 1200 miles of Rothera for my part in Whitesnake booming out over the airwaves. Perhaps the whiteness is cooking my mind, but it made us laugh.


Blogger Rebecca said...

Wow! Stunning pic inside the crevass.

1:56 pm GMT  

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