Great news! After almost a week and several failed phone calls on the sat phone, we’ve heard from the Venture Antarctica team.
There has been a frustrating six day wait at Union Glacier while the weather improved enough for them to make the one hour flight to base camp. The flight in the Twin Otter aircraft was described as “sporty”. This is an understatement as the pilot had to land the aircraft on an up hill runway made from ice. The aircraft is adapted with skis so they have NO BRAKES. The wind around mountains can be extremely hazardous, and contrast and definition between the white snow and white sky needs to be such that the pilot can see the ground when they land. On a good day it’s almost fun, on a bad day it’s like being inside a ping pong ball.
They’ve been bowled over by the scale and beauty of Antarctica so far, and being in the mountains only adds to its impact. We received word last night that they had pulled their kit on sledges from base camp (2,300m) to low camp (2,700m). Everyone is well and morale is high, and they were touched by your messages of support. As I type, they are begining their assent to high camp (3,700m).
The Venture Antarctica team have never been ones to take the easy option, and this is no different. As the first team of the season out of the blocks and up the mountain, they will have the onerous task of setting up the fixed ropes for this season. Everyone who follows them will use their ropes to clip onto for safety, so it must be done right (with the help of their guide of course).
Degradation on the body from temperature (-25c plus wind chill), fatigue and altitude will now begin to show, so the next phase of the expedition must take place as soon as possible while the weather is on their side. The team hope to push for the summit on Tuesday 5th December. This will be a long day, and the climb from high camp (3,700m) to the summit (4,892m) and back again will take approximately 14 hours. They told me that to successfully climb a mountain, you also need to get down safely. Safety is indeed key so the next 48 hours is where they will begin to pull together as a team and put their experience and judgment to good use.
We all wish the Venture Antarctica team the very best for the next 48hrs. They have gone above and beyond in support of such worthy charities and climate change awarness. Let’s get behind them, spread the word, and show your love and support!