Not much sleep for me last night, I’m just too excited and also thinking through what lies ahead.
I slept in a very comfortable camping bed which I’m trying to savour as the next month of sleeping arrangements won’t be anything close to this luxury. The 24-hour daylight takes some getting used to, but the temperature is fairly mild by Antarctic standards. Granted, it’s still a breezy -12C but I’m pleasantly surprised by how warm it feels. In wildlife news, I thought I had made an astonishing ecological breakthrough last night – discovering the first ever Antarctic bear. Unfortunately, on closer inspection of the terrifying, primal noises, it was my husband’s snoring.
The food in the ALE heated mess tent is amazing, breakfast was eggs and sausage with a side banana pancakes and Nutella. Like the comfy base camp bed, the food on the solo expedition to the South Pole will be more about performance and survival, so I’m enjoying the Chef’s best efforts while I can.
The logistics of this camp are amazing, for anyone used to mountain camping it feels more like a hotel. The logistics it takes just to set this all up annually is unfathomable. Everything needs to be flown in and flown out. The only thing left of camp over winter is the shipping container buried 5m down in the snow that acts as a freezer. It sinks every year so there is a ladder down from a tent to the freezer and a pulley and basket system to fetch the frozen food. The refrigerator is actually heated so it stops the food from freezing entirely.
The wind dropped mid-morning which meant we could fly from Union glacier to the base camp of Mt. Vinson. We’re on the first flight out of the season and our group splits into two parties for the short flight on the Twin Otter. The plane and pilots are Canadian and fly all the way down from northern Canada to Antarctica where they swap wheels for skis to be able to land out here. It’s only a 30min flight but we were treated to beautiful views of glaciers and peaks en route.
Vinson base camp is another impressive set up, large dome tents already set up for us on arrival and a mess tent for meetings and food. We spent today relaxing, eating and reading. All very civilised in advance of the real work…climbing Mt Vinson. Weather updates report temperatures of -38oC on the summit, what was it about heat rising?
We’re at 2145m although it feels little higher given the atmospheric pressure in this part of the world. We’re sorting food and equipment for the climb and testing my satellite communication kit (if you’re reading this it works!).
**NOTES FOR READERS**
Believe it or not, climbing Mount Vinson isn’t a part of Jenny’s World Record attempt – this is a pre-expedition challenge to help her acclimatise and…for a bit of fun too. She’ll be joined by her husband Matt – that’s some honeymoon and probably the coldest ‘warm-up’ you’ll ever see!
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