How do you go to a place you can’t even pronounce, let alone spell right, each time you try and explain where you are going. That extra “c”, right in the middle, always eludes me.
Going to Antar”c”tica is a little like going to the moon. It’s one of those few places on the planet that is really hard – and expensive – to go to and where you would not survive without some support system. The continent is immersed in full darkness 3/4 of the year and the it is bitter cold there without the sun. Very few people live there year round, and only in established bases.
When I first landed there, I thought to myself:” wow, I could just fly home now and be satisfied”, for the scenery was so breathlessly mindblowing, with infinite stretches of ice, only broken by sheer knifeedges ridges and summits.
I had feared the cold I would experience in Antarctica, and because of – or thanks to –
that, I didn’t feel that it was as cold as I expected it to be. Anytime we were in the sun, it was comfortable, it’s only when the sun hid behind the mountains that the air felt bitter cold.
The scale of mountains there were immense. Anywhere you look are unclimbed mountains, pristine glaciers and wilderness. What lacked maybe was the wildlife. Non of that inland there.
We summitted Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, which is what we had come to do. It was a beautiful day with winds strong enough to make it feel like it was -60C. But we had great warm coats that made it feel as though we were in the Bahamas… well, sort of.
We then flew back to Union Glacier, where we got stranded for a little while, while a strike was going on in Punta Arenas. The governement decided to stop subsidising gas in Chile and truckers went on strike, blocking access to Punta Arenas. In the meantime, I did a whole bunch of first ascents around Union Glacier Camp. The camp is a new location this year and so all that is around is unclimbed terrain. It was a blast. I love the feeling of being the first Human to set foot anywhere!
Read more on the First Ascent blog!
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