November 21 – 24, 2011
The first night in the tent was cold, but I am sure that we will get used to this environment. Will we? Well, the next morning we stayed as long as possible in the warm sleeping bag. Once up, we had breakfast and later we had a review on glacier traversing. Yes, there are huge glaciers in Antarctica and we will have to walk in rope teams during the entire climb on the mountain: three to five people on one rope, every day.
After the review we left Base Camp around 2:00pm and walked up the Branscomb Glacier towards Camp 2 for about 2 ½ hours with our backpacks and sleds. Once arrived at a “mid-point”, we built a “cache” (deposited some of our equipment and food in a depot) and went back down to Base Camp. The plan was to pick it up during our next ascend. It was a beautiful walk back and we had dinner around 8:30pm that evening. One of the nice things about Antarctica is, the sun never goes down during the Antarctic “Summer”…
The next day, on November 22, Dave, our leading guide, decided to move up to Camp 1. This was good news and the weather was excellent for such a move. We left Base Camp around 12:30pm. Two hours later we picked up our equipment and food at the “cache”. Now we had very heavy packs and sleds and it took us four more hours before we reached Camp 1. Once there, we put up the tents and had dinner. It was a beautiful but cold place and I was glad that we were able to move up to Camp 1 so fast.
Today, November 23, we woke up with good weather once again. However, the night was cold (about -20 degrees C inside the tent…). It looks that we will have to get used to these low temperatures. Once up, we had breakfast and today’s plan was to carry some material from Camp 1 at 2,750m to Camp 2 at 3,800m. It was a steep and long climb with heavy packs. Most of the ascend was on fixed ropes, at times very steep, up to 45 degrees…. We left Camp 2 at 2:30pm and were back only at 12:30am… Yes, it was a long day, but the weather was beautiful and the view from Camp 3 was just amazing!!! That day we had dinner around 1:00am and went to bed at 2:00am. It was a long but very exciting day and since it is never dark down here, staying up late is not an issue.
The next day was a “rest day”. And we got up only around 12 noon. There were two reasons for this: (1) The long day of carrying equipment and food to Camp 3 the day before, and (2) Camp 2 is in the shade until about 11:30am, and without the sun this place is extremely cold (around -30 degrees C). I enjoyed the “day off”, checked my equipment and talked to some of the other expedition members. It was a beautiful and sunny day again. So far, the Antarctic weather had been good to us!!!
On November 25, the decision has been made to move up to Camp 2 at 3,800m. The weather looked good and we were all ready after a rest day. It took us about four hours to move up the fixed rope to Camp 2 with our heavy packs. What a beautiful view from up there: It definitely became my favored view point on our climb!!! During dinner we discussed the next day and went to bed early.
Snow and ice, as far as the eye can see…
The sun goes never down in Antarctica.
The Vinson summit, still far away.
There is no life in Antarctica.
Moving up with heavy packs and sleds.
Cold nights in Antarctica.
The tents have to be protected from possible storms.
Moving up the fixed rope to Camp 2.
My favored view point at Camp 2.
Another night at Camp 2 – What an impressive view.