Friday 5 October 2018

Winter Trips

Myth campsite at night. Myth is the triangular peak on the left, and Legend the impressive rocky peak in the centre. 
One of the best aspects of being a field guide here at Rothera is the winter trips. All the overwintering non-field guides get a couple of weeks during the winter when they are assigned a field guide  and get the opportunity to head out to do some climbing/mountaineering and/or skiing. One of these weeks is pre-mid winter, and one is post-midwinter.  I missed most of the pre-midwinter trips as I only arrived here in the middle of May. However, I have recently returned from the last of my five post-midwinter trips.
Chilly! The thermometer broke shortly
after this picture was taken.
The first of the post midwinter trips was in late July. I was with Aurelia. Also out that week were Tom S and Jack. We decided to join forces and head through the McCallums Pass to the West side of the island, and camp near Bond Nunatak. We skidooed over in  and set up camp in reasonable conditions. Over the next few days the temperature kept on dropping. My thermometer broke at about -34C. Fortunately, Tom and Jack also had a thermometer.  The coldest they observed was -37C, although it may have been colder then that in the middle of the night. At those temperature life becomes hard work. However, we did put the effort in and got some good ski touring done. The skidoos also struggled in the cold, with one of Tom and Jack's skidoos refused to start.
Nice evening light when returning from a ski tour near Bond.
It was thought that a generator to warm the engine might help get the broken skidoo going. It was arranged that another two field guides, Tom L and Julie would skidoo out and deliver a generator. They arrived the following day with the promised generator, and a few other treats from base (the daily crosswords from the previous few days). The crosswords were solved successfully.  However, the generator was not enough to get the skidoo going. With bad weather forecast for the following day, it was decided that the best option would be to pack up and drag the broken skidoo back to base, a method which worked surprisingly well. After four days out in the coldest conditions I have seen on Adelaide island everybody was pretty wiped out, and enjoyed the comforts of base for a few days.
Alex near the top of Myth. 
The second and thirds trips I had were with Alex and Dan respectively. In both cases the forecast was for a few days of good weather followed by poor weather. In both cases it was decided to head over to the West side of the island and camp at Myth. This must be one of the most impressive campsite on the island as it is overlooked by the aesthetic pyramid of the mountain Myth, and by the impressive West face of Myth's bigger brother, Legend. In both cases we manged to climb Myth by the classic North West ridge. With an extra day of good weather Dan and I also managed a trip down to Carvajal, the old British base which was given over to the Chileans in the late 1970's. It is a summer only base, and most of the buildings are locked up. However, it is interesting to have a look around, and there is a refuge which is open.
James doing a bit of crevasse exploring. 
 My fourth winter trip was with James. The weather was looking a bit dubious, so we decided to stay on the Rothera side of the island, and managed a couple of good days climbing in the Stokes peaks before the weather turned bad. In hindsight this had been a good plan as another team who had decided to head over to Myth ended up being stuck out for the next ten days or so.
Above a sea on cloud on the summit of Wolf. It was great weather for the first couple of days of James
trip, it was terrible weather for the rest of the period. 
My final trip was a field guides only trip. Myself, Mark and Tom L headed back round to Myth. We had a few days of decent weather, and managed to climb a couple of the larger peaks on the island. These were Mount Barre and Mount Liotard. Both are aesthetic pyramidal peaks, and are mountains I had wanted to climb since I first arrived at Rothera back in 2015.
Mark and Tom descending from the summit of Mount Barre. 
We also managed the to ski up and down the smaller, but still very pleasant Snow Ditti one afternoon. We tried to climb one other classic ice routes of the island, Nath Path. Unfortunately it didn't really have any ice on it, and we ran out of time and bailed off after three pitches. We then returned to base to sit out a period of bad weather. When conditions improved again we managed one final pleasant day doing some climbing on the North Face of Biff, a mountain not too far from Rothera, before having to return to work.
Making the first full ascent of one of the Gullies on the North side of Biff 
I think I was most satisfied with our ascent of Mount Barre, as it has a lovely, rarely climbed peak. Also I first heard about BAS about 30 years ago from a family friend, George MacLeod. He had given a slide show about his time working for BAS in the 1960's. Along with another well know Scottish climber, Johnny Cunningham, George had made the first ascent of  Mount Barre back in 1962.

Altogether it was a pretty successful series of winter trips, and I achieved a lot more interesting stuff on the other side of the island than I had managed last winter.
Mark and Tom near the summit of Snow Ditte. Mount Liotard is the obvious peak on the right. We climbed it via the
South ridge which is the ridge the between the sunlight and the shadow. 


  1. Brrr. Sounds a bit chilly!

    Beautiful photos. Looks like you were having a lot of fun. Enjoy the rest of your time down there and hopefully I'll see you soon somewhere a lot further north.

  2. Glad you liked the pictures. Enjoy last of the summer warmth, and see you in France or Scotland at some point. Blair

  3. Great blog, Blair! Stunning photographs! Kirsten.

  4. Thanks Kirsten, glad you liked it. Hopefully you will get a chance to get out and about during your time down here.