Morning – Neko Point
The views were again incredible as we approached Neko Point – as we arrived we could see our route which makes its way up the broad shoulder to a large rock buttress. We need to come ashore and walk gently past the Gentoo’s penguins who were very inquisitive about our equipment!
Its not advisable to let a penguin peck your rope to pieces!
After roping up we made our way up onto the glacier – conditions were again very firm underfoot to start with and with so little snow it was possible to see the uncovered crevasses lower down on the glacier – however as we climb higher there is a little more snow which means of course that the crevasses are now hidden from view.
Staying roped up allowed us to remain safe with Mal and Andy leading each rope team – occasionally finding small crevasses to put their legs into they lead us safely past the larger, deeper and open crevasses we began to encounter as we got higher.
After about 1 ¾ hours we reached our high point where we could look down on Ortelious – our friends on shore and the Gentoo colony. Suddenly the serenity is shattered by the roaring sound of the glacial serac cliffs collapsing about 1.5 km away from us. Where we are was quite safe but the view of thousands and thousands of tons of car and bus sized blocks of ice crashing down onto the glacier below is a good reminder why we don’t travel under these towering ice cliffs.
The descent is much faster only interrupted by Mal and Andy once again finding a few covered crevasses to put their legs into. Back on shore we changed into our muck boots and we were whisked back to Ortelious for another tasty lunch.
Afternoon – Danco / Ice climbing
The weather was looking a bit variable with a snow storm approaching so rather than walk up high onto a glacier where we could have been whited out – we instead found a short ice cliff on the side of Danco Island where 11 lucky expeditioners had the chance to experience climbing ice for the first time with the ocean lapping their feet.
Mal and Andy quickly climbed up and built anchors for the team and then gave instruction on how to safely belay a climber with the assistance of a back-up belayer.
Next came instruction on how to use ice axes and crampons to best effect on the moderately angled ice wall.
With three separate ropes set up we were unleashed on the ice – everybody got the chance to climb at least 2-3 times as the snow storm arrived. Ice climbing with the ocean at your feet / snow falling on your shoulders AND in Antarctica? Sounds like this afternoons activity was definitely a winning combination.
Everybody did a good job of packing up swiftly and then back on board showed great teamwork in getting all the equipment cleaned before heading off to get out of our climbing gear.
Great day everybody – thanks very much!