|The weather forecast|
We were due to leave on the Monday morning and return on the following Sunday night but as Monday dawned the weather turned nasty with 40 knot winds and almost zero visability. So Mike and I skidooed to Vals where the half sledge was waiting and went for a practise linked drive with the sledge in the middle and me following along behind. It was really difficult to see and keep the rope taut without adding extra weight pulling onto Mike's skidoo. All the vehicles and sledges are linked together and we tie ourselves securely to the Skidoos for safety because the Antarctic terrain has many hidden crevasses. If one of the Skidoos goes down a crevasse the ropes provide safety lifelines. This was a theory I was hoping would not be tested.We were out for 3 hours but it felt like 10.
Tuesday morning we set off, the weather having improved a bit but not much. First challenge was getting the sled away up the slope which had turned into a wall of ice. We ended up traversing it at an angle. Once achieved we made our way to the first stop...a small caboose, where we sat and debated whether or not it was wise to continue as the weather had deteriorated further.
We decided to go for it and set off on a five-hour journey towards our base camp location.
|The Stork Bowl|
The Shambles glacier flows west to east across the middle of the island. We headed west along the Shambles, and then turned south onto the Fuchs Ice Piedmont on the other side of the Island. From there it's due south all the way to Carvajal. As with everywhere in Antarctica, it is a potentially dangerous route needing good visibility and contrast to ensure both parties cross safely.
The scenery around was amazing and I was beginning to enjoy myself!
But things can change very quickly in Antarctica.
We parked up the Skidoos and started to unload the camping gear from the sledge. At that point the weather got nasty and I got a bit scared. The wind suddenly picked up,snow was falling heavily and the temperature dropped. A blizzard was on the way.
Pitching the tent was so difficult in such extreme conditions, but Mike's experience proved to be a major factor in getting the tent erected. It was exhausting work, fighting against the angry Antarctic weather, but finally we managed to get the tent up and crawled inside for a very welcome cup of tea.
With the prospect of potentially good weather ahead of us, we set off on an the ride to Carvajal.
Of which.....more later