The team checked in late yesterday evening with an update of their progress. They are currently at High Camp readying themselves for a summit attempt today (6th December).
Climbing mountains is a tough pursuit, if it wasn’t, we would all be doing it. They had a tough day getting to high camp with the average gradient being 45 degrees of ice. Vinson Massif has an effect on the body not uncommon to mountains with such inclines in that you gain altitude quickly, too quickly. They made the sensible decision to have a down day before heading to High Camp, to allow their bodies to acclimatise to the rapid altitude change. They struggled to grab much sleep as the altitude caused nausea and intense headaches.
Yesterday they climbed 1.2km of fixed lines, and it only got harder as the atmosphere thinned. They are carrying 19Kg of kit each and have to choose each step carefully as they’re balanced on the tips of their crampons and ice axes. The brain is always working hard at times like these, it’s easy to make a mistake and incorrectly attach to a safety line, or damage a rope by standing on it with a crampon. It’s been -32 without wind chill, but they must still think about controlling their sweat, or risk freezing when they stop to take on water. This is as much about the mental as it is the physical.
This punishing and often monotonous routine is topped off by having to erect your own tent. Then they must take on board enough food to replace the 5,000+ calories a day which they have been burning. There’s constant admin and house keeping to be done.
This afternoon (GMT), they plan to begin their summit attempt. This will be a true test of their mettle, and when their challenge as a team really begins. They were characteristically buoyant on the phone and were excited about the day ahead. The view is only getting better, and Pete is struggling to ration his camera battery with all of the amazing photos and video he has been capturing. They are remaining focused, and keeping one eye on each other. Good luck for the long day ahead guys!